HO CHI MINH CITY – Co Mai’s vermicelli shop at Ben Thanh market is nearly 80 years old, with the recipe passed down through 3 generations.
“Make a bowl of vermicelli for this sister, have a full bowl, less vermicelli, more chives, one more baby”, Mrs. Van (50 years old), the owner of the restaurant, Ms. Mai, said when she saw a familiar customer enter. The guest smiled, said nothing more, sat at the table to wipe chopsticks, ordered more iced tea, and waited for a hot breakfast in the middle of Ben Thanh market.
A bowl of vermicelli is brought to the table, underneath is a small portion of small noodles that are soft, filled with broth. Above is a large shrimp is peeled clean to the tail, adding 3 slices of thinly sliced pork and one fat – the highlight of this vermicelli dish.
Suong at the restaurant uses fresh shrimp meat mixed with fish ball, seasoning to taste, both chewy and crunchy. Because there is no extra flour to create sticky, smooth still retains the sweet aroma of shrimp and fish. This is a recipe inherited from the time of grandmother, through mother to the time of Mrs. Van, which sells like now. The restaurant named Mai is located from the grandmother of the current shopkeeper.
In addition to the main ingredient, the owner also adds a bit of roasted peanuts to separate fat leopard seeds, chives and a teaspoon of fish sauce to harmonize the sweetness of the broth made from the bone tube, coconut water and squid. Served with vermicelli is a bowl of white vegetables or fresh, depending on customers’ preferences, including beansprouts, banana corn, cilantro and shredded spinach. If the customer wants to dab meat, shrimp or smooth, the restaurant serves with a cup of pureed sweet sauce, you can add tamarind juice or minced fresh chili to mix with.
Currently, the price of a full bowl of vermicelli in the restaurant is 80,000 VND, an additional 17,000 VND for a baby. “Compared to other places, it is expensive, but when eating, customers will feel that it is worthwhile. We use fresh shrimp from 4am, termites from Binh Dien market (District 8) bring it to Ben Thanh market for us to cook. I eat it very sweet. There are places selling 40,000 and 50,000 VND, but I still sell based on the quality of the food “, Ms. Van said.
Ben Thanh Market is one of the tourist attractions of Ho Chi Minh City, so the diners at the restaurant are mainly tourists and overseas expatriates from abroad. When Covid-19 appeared, this number of visitors gradually disappeared, only familiar visitors supported by Vietnamese.
“Before I sold it from 6am to 13pm, but now until 12am, the number of customers is still 1/3 compared to before. I still try to stick to the quality of the food to keep the current number of customers. If the quality is reduced, they may not support and I lose the number of existing customers “, Ms. Van shared. The owner also admitted that the price of a bowl of vermicelli 80,000 VND can cause many people to hesitate in the current difficult economic situation.
Ms. Minh Anh, a gourmet for a walk and breakfast in Ben Thanh market, expressed: “The noodle here is delicious, I feel satisfied, eat the whole bowl. But the price is quite high, the rent factor can be added. This premises and other. Sometimes it’s fine to visit once. “
Co Mai vermicelli shop is located in the food court, 1020 stalls in Ben Thanh market, open for sale from 6am to 12pm daily. In addition to vermicelli, visitors can enjoy breakfast in the central market of the city with broken rice, vermicelli, and spring rolls … at the adjacent stalls, priced from VND 50,000 / piece. Follow vnexpress