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Hẻm Gems: To Chan's Noodle Soup Offers Comfort in a Bowl

If you turn up to a hủ tiếu spot anywhere in this city and there is not a hand-painted, wooden noodle cart taking up one corner of the venue, you may want to think twice about sitting down.

There may be many influences in the much-loved noodle soup, but the aged wooden vehicles that house its deconstructed ingredients are all but mandatory in shops and on sidewalks across the city.

The same rule applies at District 1’s Hu Tieu Mi To Chan. The one-room, hole-in-the-wall shop on Nguyen Cu Trinh looks as though it’s been there for decades, though this fledgling venture is only two years old. From around 4pm until late, a cook mans the requisite cart, decorated with various, animated scenes from Chinese mythology, and slings piping hot bowls of hủ tiếu and .

In the evenings, it’s a fairly tame crowd, with a handful of local regulars strolling in for their after-work meal. You can choose from a range of both noodle and meat options, including hủ tiếu or (egg noodles) as well as pork ribs, xá xíu (Chinese barbecued pork), sương ống or wontons.

For our part, we opted to stick with the , which were thin, chewy and delicious, a genuine version of the yellow noodles rather than the packaged variety. As always, the broth makes the soup, and To Chan’s mostly savory, slightly sweet recipe certainly brought complexity to the otherwise simple but fresh ingredients. The wontons were decent, if a little small, however the xá xíu was a hit when dropped into a mixture of egg noodles, broth, spring onions and one paper-thin bánh tôm with the tiniest shrimp you’ve ever seen.

Dinner at To Chan, it seems, is no grand affair, but the laid-back atmosphere, sparse walls and sturdy, time-honored wooden noodle cart make the experience a grade-A comfort meal that hits the spot.

 

To sum up:

Taste: 3/5

Price: 4/5 – VND35,000/regular, VND40,000/large

Atmosphere: 3/5

Friendliness: 5/5

Location: 5/5

 

Dana is 70% caffeine, 50% fish sauce and hasn't taken a math class since 2004.

Hu Tieu Mi To Chan

41 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, D1

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