Friday , March 24 2023

An unusual beef noodle soup topping: fried sausages

What makes Nguyen Thi Minh’s beef noodle soup different is the topping that nobody else thought of: fried sausages.

Thanks to her specialty sausages, Minh’s Saigon shop sells about 300 bowls of soup per day.

This popular bun bo Hue (Hue-style beef noodle soup) shop on Phan Xich Long, one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular dining streets, draws customers from all around.

However, passersby who don’t know about 55-year-old Minh’s unique dish are often surprised by the large fried sausages stacked high on a tray atop the eatery’s display case.

Whenever a bowl of soup is ordered, Minh grabs one of the sausages and cuts it into smaller pieces with a pair of scissors.

Minh prepares her beef noodle soup. Photo by VnExpress/ Quynh Tran

Minh prepares her beef noodle soup. Photo by VnExpress/ Quynh Tran

Minh says that ever since her family opened the little restaurant in 1984, fried sausage has been its specialty. After Minh’s sister passed down the recipe, it hasn’t changed in close to 40 years. Minh and her sisters take turns selling the noodles, one in the morning and one in the evening. The shop’s five tables are typically full both morning and night.

Even though Minh has moved the restaurant a number of times, her customers have followed her all around thanks to the fried sausages.

Minh makes the sausages on her lunch break every two days. In each session she produces about 30 kilograms of sausages by stuffing ground meat marinated with lemongrass, garlic and spices into pork intestines. She boils the sausages before deep-frying them golden brown.

She can typically sell over 10 kilograms of sausages per day. The sausages are mainly a topping for Minh’s noodle soup, but she also sells them a la cart or to go for VND50,000 ($2.11) per 100 grams.

Fried sausages on display in front of the eatery. Photo by VnExpress/ Quynh Tran

Fried sausages on display in front of the eatery. Photo by VnExpress/ Quynh Tran

The broth is created from beef bones that have been cooked with pineapple and lemongrass, just like many other beef noodle soups in Saigon. Thick vermicelli noodles from Hue are used in this dish. Morning glory, banana blossom, herbs, and raw bean sprouts are served alongside every bowl.

A regular bowl with fried sausages costs VND50,000 ($2.10), while the “special” bowl with extra toppings costs VND70,000 ($2.95). Minh said that most customers order bowls with one to three sausages.

Minh’s sausages cut into thick slices. Photo by VnExpress/ Quynh Tran

Minh’s sausages cut into thick slices. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Cam Tuyet, a local resident, has frequented Minh’s restaurant for the past two years. She often visits the eatery a couple times a week to purchase the noodles for her family’s breakfast. Sausages are frequently served with porridge, so she initially found eating it with bun bo Hue strange.

But then she found that eating the sausages with bun bo Hue had its own interesting flavor. The 34-year-old diner praised Minh’s beef shank and said “the sausages also taste really good.”

Every day, Minh is open from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m., and then again from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. The eatery does not have enough parking spaces when it gets crowded, so diners have to watch their own vehicles.

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