Sights from Chợ Bình Tây, Saigon
On our last morning in Vietnam before heading to the airport, a thought dawned on me. Saigon's Chinatown was apparently founded by Teochew Chinese. So if my beloved Tung Kee from back home was "Teochew Noodles" but run by Vietnamese, could the Chinatown here hold be the origin behind that unique Teochew-Vietnamese combination that I've come to love so much about Tung Kee? We came down to find out.
At first it was a typical open market selling all sorts of stuff: cheap clothes, kitchenware, and groceries, including the spices seen above. But outside we came across a lady in a cart selling what appeared to be yaki onigiri at a first glance. I suspected that it was probably that sticky rice breakfast stuff that I read about though, and I was right. She cut one of those rice balls open with scissors, and out came steaming hot bananas before she doused it in some sweet coconut milk. It tasted like it sounded.
But then we found a row of cooked food stalls inside, with a number of folks eating soup noodes. We figured that this was the time to try hủ tiếu, which was apparently brought to the country by Chinese immigrants. It may look like a bit of a murky mess with slices of unknown organ meat, but I liked how the Vietnamese localized it, especially with those bean sprouts plus a squeeze of lime. Now, it still wasn't quite the #2 from Tung Kee, so my mystery is still unsolved. But clearly I haven't spent enough time here to properly figure this out.