A trip to Ho Chi Minh city isn’t complete without a visit to the Lunch Lady! The food stall is located a bit out on the East, where there’s no tourist attractions but I told my mother that I had to go, otherwise I’ll leave with regrets. I’m glad that mom approved too! It’s a fave of both the locals (more) and tourists. What’s so special about the Lunch Lady? The menu changes daily! Yes… 7 days a week, 7 types of noodles!
The Lunch Lady specializes in noodle soups, which she rotates her menu daily! I was very surprised, because I can imagine the hard work and the amount of time that she has to put into in cooking the broths and prep the ingredients. It’s definitely the first time that I’ve encountered a food stall that sells different dish everyday. One can totally go there ford lunch every day without getting bored!
I did a lot of research beforehand to see if I can find a “menu” of what they serve everyday. Just to make sure that I actually get what I want and not ended up with a beef-based broth, because English is probably not going to work there. The menu rotates based on different Vietnamese noodle dish – one dish per day (Whole menu available at the end).
It was obvious that we aren’t locals, so without further communications, they start to bring up the dishes as soon as we sat down. After few days in the city, I’ve noticed that most of the street vendors/food stalls have a “set menu” for the foreigners. Don’t need to feel bad or shy to say “no” if they bring up something that you don’t want or it’s too much!
First thing that was brought to the table was the “gỏi cuốn” (fresh spring rolls). It’s actually sold by another food cart next to the Lunch Day, but I guess they promote it as part of the meal along with the noodles. They are one of my favorite Vietnamese food, so not going to turn it down.
Soon after, the noodle soup is served! I specifically chose Thursday, because the soup interests me the most – the Bún Mam. It’s a fermented fish broth that was cooked with a various of fruits and vegetables, and served with shrimp, Vietnamese BBQ pork, pineapple, eggplant, okra, and chives. Normally, a plate of raw vegetables is always served a long with the meal, no matter what, but at Lunch Lady, they blanched the greens for few secs.
The soup is paired with thick rice noodles, which is the type that I prefer! Vietnam is extremely hot in general, but the broth is surprisingly light yet flavorful! I think it’s because they use vegetables and fruits to make the broth, instead of meat, which would made it lighter and less greasy.
Overall, it was definitely worth the taxi ride to the Lunch Lady! It definitely live up the hype and does not disappoint at all. The portion was generous. After the meal, there was an old lady selling tofu curds (a kind of Asian sweet soup/dessert), it was running out fast! I got a cup to share with my mom, and it was very smooth and silky! When I asked my mom what was her favorite meal out of the entire trip, “Lunch lady” was her answer.
Menu of Lunch Lady
Monday – Súp Thái
- Tom yum gong soup
- Thick and rounded rice noodles
- Top with some beef, a few pieces of squid, some fried fish balls, and 3 pieces of shrimp
Tuesday – Mix of bún mọc and Mì Quảng
- Tumeric rice noodles
- Top with shrimp and pork
Wednesday – Mì Gà Tiềm
- Chicken soup
- Egg noodles
- Top with pieces of liver and bok choy
Thursday – Bún mắm
- Seafood/fish broth
- Thick rice noodles
- Serve with shrimp, Vietnamese BBQ pork, pineapple, eggplant, okra, and chives
Friday – Bún bò Huế
- Beef and lemongrass broth
- Thick rice noodles
- Top with beef brisket, pig’s trotters, a Vietnamese pork sausage, and some raw beef slices
Saturday – Bánh Canh
- Crab-based broth
- Udon-like noodles
- Top with fish cakes, shallots, and quail eggs
Sunday – Bún thịt nướng
- No soup
- Rice vermicelli
- Top with grilled pork, fresh basil and mint, salad and peanuts, and fried spring rolls