Over the past 10 years, the lotus leaf sticky rice shop at Pham Van Hai market has always been crowded with customers since early morning. The shop has no signboard, located in a space of less than 10m2, but every day hundreds of customers line up to buy.
Only 2 hours sold out
At 6 am, people stood in line in front of 35 Ngo Thi Thu Minh (Tan Binh district, Ho Chi Minh City) when Pham Bich Hanh’s family car had just reached the beginning of the road.
Taking advantage of the time to clear the goods to sell to the first customers, Ms. Hanh (52 years old) did not have time to rest even though she had just opened the shop.
“Give me 3 more sticky rice, 1 sticky rice com, 2 more full corn sticky rice” – the voice of the customer kept urging, prompting the owner of the sticky rice shop to speed up the progress.
The shop has no signboard, located in a space of less than 10m2. The owners only arranged a few plastic tables used to place baskets of sticky rice that were ivory, hot, and smoky. The ingredients are also neatly arranged, so that the seller can easily pack the sticky rice quickly.
Most of the guests eating here are acquaintances, having eaten since her family first started a business until now. But there are also people who mainly come to try it because the restaurant is so famous on social networks.
No matter how crowded, the owner is quick to complete a pack of sticky rice in just a few minutes.
“In the past, the shop used to deliver goods, even moving to other provinces, but in recent years, they don’t do that anymore. Because customers come to buy too many, if we cook more, they will sell out in the morning,” she said. Hanh said.PhátTurn on the sound
People wait in line to buy sticky rice with lotus leaves in Ho Chi Minh City (Video: Cao Bach).
Every day, Ms. Hanh’s family cooks about 20kg of sticky rice, 15kg of corn and 3kg of nuggets. On the full moon days, Ms. Hanh has to increase the quantity to 30kg of rice because people are vegetarians a lot.
Sticky rice is divided into three types: Xeo, nuggets, corn, combined with other ingredients to make the dish more round.
The dish is loved by the people by cooking and preparing sticky rice in the North. Glutinous rice is cooked evenly, shiny, until noon, it still retains its softness and flexibility.
Depending on whether diners want to eat salty or sweet, the shop owner will consider choosing spices such as cotton rub, silk rolls, fried onions, … or sugar, coconut. Both flavors are indispensable for the “presentation” of green beans.
While sticky rice is the most popular dish, sticky rice is no less. Com is cooked from good quality sticky rice, combined with green beans and then mixed with coconut. The scent of this type of sticky rice is the most fragrant, because the glutinous rice seeds are bright green, cooked on medium heat, so it is not too sweet but very easy to eat.
In particular, the sticky rice here is not put in a take-away box, but is wrapped with a fresh, dark green lotus leaf. The owner of the sticky rice shop said that lotus leaves both help keep the heat and flexibility of sticky rice, while also having the aroma of nature, contributing to environmental protection.
After a while, the bitter taste of lotus blends into the sticky rice, making the flavors blend together, creating an indescribable “superior” dish. People who eat often comment that childhood is right in their heads, when the tip of the tongue tastes the famous Northern sticky rice.
On average, every 5 days, Ms. Hanh imports more than 2,000 lotus leaves from Dong Thap, Long An, etc. and then chooses the freshest leaves to pack sticky rice.
That’s how crowded this is, but this sticky rice shop only “makes profit”, because the ingredients are almost “home-made”.
Despite the escalating price, the owner still keeps the price of 12,000 VND for sweet sticky rice, 15,000 VND for salty sticky rice, 20,000 VND for sticky rice for many years. Therefore, there are many people who have been “close friends” for decades, traveling the whole 5-6km road to buy sticky rice.
“I’ve been eating here since I was in school, now I’ve gone to work. Every morning I stop by to buy a pack, because I’m far from home, I crave sticky rice, only here is the best cooking.
The owners are cute and talk to guests, so I like it very much. Every day I can’t eat it all and take it home to steam it, the lotus leaves make the sticky rice more fragrant”, said Ms (Ngoc Ha, living in Tan Binh district).
A guest came out, and there were 2 or 3 other people coming in. The owner and owner had to say, jokingly: “It’s torture every morning, but as long as there’s money”, making many diners laugh along. . Just like that, the owners kept coming to nearly 9am, the cars were sold out.
Love Saigon already!
In 2011, Ms. Hanh’s family moved from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City to start a business. Before that, the tradition of her husband’s family used to sell this sticky rice dish, but the difference was that it was wrapped with young eagle leaves or chopped banana leaves. From a state official, her husband Hanh quit his job to follow his mother’s business of selling sticky rice on the sidewalk. Listening to friends say that it’s easy to make money in Ho Chi Minh City, and life is close. Hanh’s family has been together in the South, opening a shop selling sticky rice until now.
“Retiring from the office to sell like this, the friends out there are very sarcastic. But since coming to the South, it’s more comfortable, everyone’s thinking is also open. People only care about making money, whatever they do themselves. respected,” said Hanh’s husband.
Every day, regardless of holidays, Ms. Hanh and her husband and children get up at 3 am to prepare ingredients for the delivery. At exactly 6:30, the whole family was present at the point of sale to serve strange and familiar customers. After that, just sold out, Hanh’s family went home to rest, then continued to prepare ingredients for tomorrow until midnight.
“My house does it all by myself, I don’t buy ready-made goods from outside, even the onions are peeled by myself. I work 16, 17 hours every day. My family doesn’t run after quantity but more importantly quality, yet people We still keep coming,” Hanh smiled and said.
No matter how many customers buy, family members still try to quickly remember the request, warmly continue to talk so that the diners are not upset. However, with her frank nature and appreciation for the results of her labor, Hanh and her husband sometimes refuse to serve guests who intentionally cut in line, intending to “break”.
“We respect each customer, because people in the South are very cute. But especially if someone causes trouble or jostles so that those who come first can’t buy, I bluntly invite them back. At such times, Other guests also understand, and then sympathize with me”, Ms. Hanh confided.
After 10 years in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanh shared that although her working life is hard, she “missed” to love this place and has no intention of returning to her homeland.
According to the owner of the sticky rice shop, at first, it was difficult to find a place to sell, so her family had to move several times. Fortunately, she found a suitable place at Pham Van Hai market, she was also favored by many small merchants around, supported, asked back and forth when she saw the family pushing the cart carrying the sticky rice out.
“I have heard of the name for a long time, but I came here to understand the saying “Saigon people love each other very much.” Sometimes I also try to practice speaking a few sentences in Southern, just like that, people show interest and affection. right.
It’s not because of good business that he hasn’t returned to his hometown, but because he loves Saigon too much,” said the owner of lotus leaf sticky rice.
Photo: Internet (vinlove.net)