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Noodles on Monday, soup on Tuesday: Daily rotating menus at local street food stalls keep diners on their toes

Saturday, October 08, 2022, 10:53 GMT+7
Noodles on Monday, soup on Tuesday: Daily rotating menus at local street food stalls keep diners on their toes
A bowl of ‘chao long’ (intestine porridge) at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

While most food stalls and restaurants around the world tend to keep a static menu, a number of stalls in Ho Chi Minh City choose to offer diners a different selection of meals every day of the week.

One of these stalls is Chi Muoi – a lunch cart that has been feeding foodies in Alley 233 on Tran Quy Street, District 11 for the past 20 years.

Tran Thi Trinh, the 45-year-old who runs Chi Muoi, changes her menu every day of the week, from Monday to Sunday, ensuring her regulars remain excited for tomorrow’s lunch.

Tran Thi Trinh, owner of Chi Muoi in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City, has run her stall for the past 20 years. Its menu changes on a daily basis. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Tran Thi Trinh, owner of Chi Muoi in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City, has run her stall for the past 20 years. Its menu changes on a daily basis. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The lunch rush, from 11:30 am to 12:00 pm, is typically when masses of workers and students form the neighborhood visit Chi Muoi to grab a bite to eat.

Aside from locals, write-ups on websites and social media have put Chi Muoi on the tourist map for both foreign and Vietnamese visitors to Ho Chi Minh City.

Tran Thi Trinh and her staff work hard at Chi Muoi during peak hours. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Tran Thi Trinh and her staff work hard at Chi Muoi during peak hours. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

“It’s easy for customers to come every day because I always cook different food,” said Trinh. “They don’t get bored.”

“On Monday I sell hu tieu Thai (Thai noodles), banh canh cua (crab noodle soup) on Tuesday, mi vit tiem (Chinese braised duck noodle soup) on Wednesday, curry on Thursday, bun mi vang (white and golden noodles) on Friday, bun mam (fermented paste noodles) on Saturday, and banh canh cua (crab noodle soup) on Sunday.”

The menu at Chi Muoi in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City shows which dishes are served on which days. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
The menu at Chi Muoi in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City shows which dishes are served on which days. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Most meals at Chi Muoi cost just VND30,000 ($1.26), though the crab noodle soup can cost more if customers ask for extra crab.

Additionally in the morning, Trinh’s daughter runs the stall with a different menu from what her mother sells in the afternoon.

Diners enjoy their meals at Chi Muoi in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Diners enjoy their meals at Chi Muoi in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Pham Quan Thuc, a resident of District 11, is a longtime regular at Trinh’s stall. The Chinese braised duck noodle soup and curry is what hooked him.

“I live just a few kilometers away from here and often stop by for a bowl of food because of the reasonable prices and exciting flavors,” Thuc said.

“I know the menu schedule by heart so it’s easy for me to choose which days I want to visit.”

A bowl of curry noodles at Chi Muoi in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A bowl of curry noodles at Chi Muoi in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Co Hoang, another food stall in District 11, has been operating under a similar model to Chi Muoi for the past three decades.

Hoang Thi Ngoc Huong, the owner of Co Hoang, opens the stall each day at 1:00 pm at 86/7 Ong Ich Khiem Street.

Hoang Thi Ngoc Huong prepares food at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Hoang Thi Ngoc Huong prepares food at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

“When we first opened, we did not have many customers so we decided to offer different meals each day in order to attract more diners,” she said.

“Our best sellers are bun thit nuong (noodles topped with grilled pork) and banh canh cua (crab noodle soup). We sell twice as many of those dishes as we do any other.”

Huong and her three sisters start cooking at 7:00 am each morning.  At 1:00 pm they open for afternoon and close at 7:00 pm. 

Hoang Thi Ngoc Huong prepares food at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Hoang Thi Ngoc Huong prepares food at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

A bowl of bun mam at Huong’s stall sells for VND50,000 (US$2.09) and a bowl of banh canh cua (crab noodle soup) sells for VND35,000 to 100,000 ($4.19) depending on the amount of crab a customer requests.

Everything else at the stall costs just VND35,000 ($1.47).

A menu at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City shows the weekly menu. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A menu at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City shows the weekly menu. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Also, Co Hoang switches to a completely vegan menu on the first and fifteenth days of the lunar month.

Tran Thi My Phung is a resident from Tan Phu District who visits the stall nearly every day.

“I love every dish [at Co Hoang], but the ones I like most are the bun thit nuong and banh canh cua,” Phung said.

“There are not many food stalls like this that change their menus daily.”

Diners enjoy their meals at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Diners enjoy their meals at Co Hoang in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

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