HANOI – Mr. Kien’s roast chicken pho restaurant attracts many diners with its pho dish combining Bac Giang hill chicken marinated with more than 17 spices.
Mr. Nguyen Xuan Kien (49 years old)’s roast chicken pho restaurant at 116B6 Kim Lien, Dong Da district recently attracted many diners to enjoy.
The shop is open from 9:00 a.m. to about 10:30 p.m. every day. The dining area has two spaces with 4 tables outside and 14 tables inside, with air conditioning, serving about 30 guests at the same time.
In 1999, Mr. Kien (black shirt) worked as a chef in a hotel in Dong Da district, Hanoi. In 2009, he quit his job and opened a boiled chicken pho restaurant at his current address. At that time, he started selling roasted chicken, but because he had not found a suitable recipe, the dish was not really unique.
Many times when he returned to his wife’s hometown in Lang Son to enjoy the specialty of roasted duck pho, Mr. Kien came up with the idea of combining pho and roasted chicken to create the restaurant’s signature dish, bringing a new flavor to diners. Around the beginning of 2023, he put roasted chicken pho on the menu.
Up to now, he has been selling roasted chicken pho for 8 months. However, in the last 3 months, a number of young diners came to experience and share photos on social networks, and the new dish became known to many people.
Mr. Kien uses chickens covered with nets and released on hills in his hometown, Yen The district (Bac Giang). A standard chicken is one that has been raised for about 5 months, weighs 1.7 – 1.8 kg, and has firm meat. “Compared to cheap industrial chicken but with friable meat, our free-range chicken has a higher price but the meat is firmer, chewier and sweeter,” Mr. Kien said.
Around 3 a.m. every day, chickens are transported from Bac Giang to Hanoi. After preparing and washing, the chicken will be “bathed” once with vinegar and boiled ginger to remove odors, helping the chicken skin to be evenly stretched, shiny, and smooth. The reason it’s called “bathing” is because you use a ladle to scoop water and pour it over the chicken, rather than putting it directly into the pot of water, Mr. Kien shared.
After draining, the whole chicken is marinated with a mixture of about 17 spices such as pepper, Korean chili, and sugar for 2 hours. The special ingredient in this mixture is Thai table salt because “even if you accidentally add too much, the dish will only be rich in flavor, not salty like when using regular table salt,” Mr. Kien shared.
After the marinating step, there is a second “bathing” step with a mixture of water mixed with pink vinegar, white vinegar, and Thai salt. This step will help the chicken skin become more shiny, giving it a beautiful color when grilled. Finally, hang the chicken on a hook to fan or dry.
The chicken is then placed in a pot and grilled for about 15 minutes to retain the juice and avoid the meat from drying out. This is the experience Mr. Kien learned after many years of researching and changing the formula. “Before, I grilled chicken for about 25 minutes at high temperature, causing the chicken to dry out and the skin to burn, which was neither delicious nor beautiful,” he said.
When the customer orders, Mr. Kien re-fries the chicken in an oil pan at a temperature of 180 degrees Celsius for about a minute to tighten the skin and keep it crispy and fragrant. At this time, the chicken skin is evenly cooked, golden brown, shiny and has an attractive aroma.
In addition to roasted chicken, mixed roasted chicken pho is loved by many diners, according to Mr. Kien. Hot blanched pho noodles are put into a bowl, add hand-shredded roasted chicken, blanched bean sprouts, coriander, and roasted peanuts. Served with mixed pho is a dipping sauce made from a mixture of coriander roots, pho basil, garlic, chili, sugar, fish sauce, lemon and kumquat.
With the noodle soup dish combined with roasted chicken, the broth is cooked from pork bones and chicken feet for about 18 hours, adding grilled shallots, pepper, ginger, fish sauce, and MSG.
Each piece of roasted chicken with crispy, golden skin is arranged on top of the pho bowl. Surrounded by a number of other toppings such as naked eggs, gizzards, heart, and liver.
The chicken meat is soft and succulent but the skin is chewy, fragrant and flavorful. The sauce creates a sour, sweet flavor that penetrates the soft, silky noodles. Tough, crunchy chicken gizzards combined with liver and sweet, fleshy eggs help diners feel the diversity of flavors in a bowl of pho. Accompanying the mixed pho is a bowl of sweet broth made from chicken broth, green onions and coriander.
In addition to whole grilled chicken priced at 160,000 VND and roasted chicken pho mixed with water or water priced at 30,000 VND per bowl, the restaurant also sells special chicken pho (50,000 VND); chicken vermicelli (35,000 – 50,000 VND); gizzard intestines (50,000 VND); bare eggs (100,000 VND); Grilled/boiled chicken thighs (50,000 – 80,000 VND). Side dishes include cabbage chicken salad/banana flower/green mango chicken feet priced at 60,000 VND and some drinks such as iced tea and beer.
On an average day, the restaurant sells about 800 – 900 bowls of pho of all kinds, mainly roasted chicken pho. On weekdays, the shop sells more than 100 chickens, on weekends the number can reach more than 200 chickens and more than 1 quintal of pho noodles, Mr. Kien said.
Bui Thanh Hien (20 years old, Dong Da) and a group of students came to enjoy roasted chicken pho at the restaurant on November 2 and shared that they liked mixed chicken pho more than liquid chicken pho. “The feeling when eating mixed chicken pho is that the chicken meat is rich in flavor and the skin is chewier and crispier,” Hien said. She commented that the prices at the restaurant are reasonable, suitable for both students and working people.
The small alley leading to the parking lot, located between the customer service area and the processing counter, is bustling with customers at noon and night.
The restaurant has about 10 employees, each person is in charge of one step: grilling chicken, shredding chicken, blanching pho noodles, pouring broth, and serving pho to customers. However, if you come during peak hours at noon (11:00 – 1:00 pm) and evening (7:00 pm – 9:00 pm), diners may still have to wait in line because of the large number of customers, the owner said.
Photo,Video: Internet (Vinlove.net)