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Tra Vinh-style noodle soup draws patrons to Saigon eatery

A stall in Saigon serving bun suong, a type of shrimp noodle soup originating in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, attracts scores of discerning patrons.

Pham Thi Luong, 52, is the third-generation member of her family to serve bun suong at 183/41 Ben Van Don Street, District 4.

She typically wakes up at 2 a.m. every day to cook the broth and prepare ingredients. At 4 a.m., she pushes her cart from District 2 to District 4 where she has her 'shop' set up by 6.

Tra Vinh-style noodle soup, Saigon eatery, shrimp noodle soup,  discerning patrons, sweet chili, fish sauce, breakfast bowl

Pham Thi Luong, 52, is the third-generation member of her family to serve bun suong at 183/41 Ben Van Don Street, District 4.

A major ingredient in the soup, suong (R) is the Vietnamese term for a fried mixture of ground shrimp and flour shaped like the larva of the red palm weevil, a Mekong Delta staple.

Luong said the business is actually associated with her husband’s family. When Luong turned 19, from Dong Nai Province she followed her husband to Saigon and later took charge of his family noodle business, passed down from her grandmother-in-law.

At first, she found it quite easy to cook this dish but difficult to sell.

"During my first days, I did everything really slow and doubted whether I should continue selling this dish. People often thought I was selling crab noodle soup so they kept asking for that. When I hung up a sign clarifying I serve bun suong, more customers started turning up. On weekends, it sells quite fast," Luong said.

A typical bowl of Luong's bun suong includes shrimp, pork, pork blood, and suong. The broth consists of pig bones, white radish, fermented soy bean, and tamarind.

Tra Vinh-style noodle soup, Saigon eatery, shrimp noodle soup,  discerning patrons, sweet chili, fish sauce, breakfast bowl

A typical bowl of Luong's bun suong includes shrimp, pork, pork blood, and suong.

On the side is a small bowl of sweet chili and fish sauce with tamarind for the suong.

A breakfast bowl of the shrimp noodle soup costs VND40,000 ($1.7). In three hours, Luong can sell up to 20 kg of fresh noodles.

Bun suong was created in Tra Vinh, but Luong has never been to the Mekong Delta province and her husband’s family is not from there neither. Despite this, she said her customers love her shrimp noodle soup, and that she has never had even one complaint.

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Source: VnExpress

Tra Vinh-style noodle soup, Saigon eatery, shrimp noodle soup, discerning patrons, sweet chili, fish sauce, breakfast bowl
 
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