Luke Nguyen's Street Food Asia s01e02 Episode Script

Saigon, Vietnam - Part 2

I'm on a quest to find the best street food throughout Asia.
The environment is raw and edgy.
The street food is fast and furious.
Saigon, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta are my playgrounds for killer curb-side cuisine.
In part two of Saigon, Vietnam, I taste the best pho I've ever had, discover my own lunch lady and try some spicy crab claws that will blow your head off.
That's a do-it-yourself crab chilli salt street food style.
Now, I get asked this question all the time -- "Luke, where can I find the best pho in Saigon?" Well, guys, here it is.
I'm in District 1, a street called Ho Hao Hon.
Look for number 27, but across from 27, there's this gorgeous laneway Wow, I can smell the aromas already -- the cinnamon, the cassia bark, the cloves.
Hem number 30, or laneway number 30.
This is the best pho in the area and it's run by this beautiful family who have been selling this dish for 40 years.
Look at this -- really gorgeous, tender, slow-braised brisket.
The aromas coming through.
Beef tendon.
We've got Whoa! We've got a bit of action there.
So we've got some fresh, silky rice noodles, made fresh this morning.
Some onions, I would have brisket, I would have tendons, I would have beef balls, I would have fresh sirloin, sliced onion on the top.
And families have been coming here for 40, 30 years, grandmothers, young children.
I mean, it's a family space.
This is the owner.
Isn't she gorgeous? This is Geeman.
She's been doing this pho for so long and she knows everyone.
It's like coming to, you know, your grandma's house.
She's a master chef of pho of all of Vietnam.
So here I've ordered a pho nuoc beo, which is a beef noodle soup with everything.
Taste the broth first.
That's the hero of the dish.
Clean, very clear, um, but packs of flavour.
I'm gonna put in my blanched bean sprouts.
And I've also ordered some blanched spring onion heads for sweet flavour.
Fresh chilli goes in, but up to you if you want to put loads of chilli or not.
I'm gonna squeeze a bit of lime.
I've got chilli sauce, hoisin sauce -- they both go in.
A bit of chilli and fish sauce as well, as a dipping sauce.
Here we have sawtooth coriander, right? See, it grows up like that, both sides have jagged edges on it, so it's called sawtooth coriander.
Now you've got your sweet basil.
Asian basil goes in.
Mix that all up.
Get that brisket in there, dip that into your sauce.
Mmm! She's been making pho since 1968.
Wow! Grandmother's recipe, secret recipe.
It's a big family affair.
Older sister, brother The guy that's flipping all the noodles is, like, the youngest brother.
Well, it's the whole family.
I do feel like I'm at home and the pho's fantastic.
Thank you.
She said it's so good that all her family eat it and they get really, really big.
Just like me -- I'm getting big eating it too.
She's adorable.
Now, more than 50 years ago, there was a street food vendor named BamMoy.
She used to have a bamboo yoke, two baskets, used to walk up and down the street selling her incredible sticky rice with chicken.
Locals would come out of their houses, stop her and say, "I'll have Xoi Ga with chicken, please!" And she got so popular, so famous, that she opened her own little stall called Xoi Ga Number One.
She's very old now -- she's in her 90s -- and she's passed on the business to one of her daughters.
However, the other daughter wasn't too happy about this, so what she did was she opened her own sticky rice with chicken pretty much next door.
Come over, I'll show you.
So when you come to this street, make sure you go to the correct one.
This is the original -- number 15 Nguyen Trung Truc, right? Over here is the other daughter's one, also called Xoi Ga Number One.
They'll try to entice you in here, but make sure you go to the original Xoi Ga Number One So that's your sticky rice, Chinese sausage, some shredded chicken, some pickled vegetables.
What a dish! Some liver.
Finish it with some fried shallots or spring onion.
How good's that? 30 seconds, I've got my meal.
I was gonna share it but my little friend over here has been driving around all day and what I love about Vietnamese is they can sleep absolutely anywhere at any time.
Even on a motorbike! I guess this sticky rice is all mine.
It's all for me.
Now, there's a great dish I make at my Red Lantern restaurants.
It's called Ga Xoi Mo, or crispy skinned chicken.
Now what it is, I take the chicken, I slow poach it in a master stock until it's nice and tender, and then I take it out, let the skin dry, and then I baste it with really hot oil again and again until it gets nice and crisp.
Now, it's really worth doing this but it does take time.
But I'm here at Com Ga Xoi Mo Su Su, where I've met an engineer-cum-chef where he's made his own machine to make this job a whole lot easier.
Come check this out.
Alright, just going to press a button.
This is gonna This is gonna stir-fry the rice.
It's automatic.
No-one needs to stand there -- it does it.
That's his first machine.
Over here, we have the chicken that's been already poached in the master stock and it showers the chicken with the hot oil.
So you put that under there for a few minutes and you see the colour changing pretty quickly.
It's browning and it's getting really nice and crisp and crunchy.
Look at that -- 182 degrees constant oil showers the skin.
Mr Dun, you are a genius! Oh! Thank you.
Wow! Look at that! Look at this skin.
Get in there.
Oh! That's what I was expecting.
Wonderful red rice.
Restaurant quality, absolutely.
It hasn't been deep fried, so it's not oily.
The skin is super, super crispy.
She's a cracker! In Saigon, there's a celebrity street food vendor known as the Lunch Lady, made famous by Mr Anthony Bourdain on his show No Reservations.
Well, this is not her.
She is MY lunch lady.
This is Miss Nga and she cooks a different dish every single day.
Today it's bun bo hue, tomorrow is hu tieu and on Friday, it's the busiest day, she does bun thit nuong.
And she's so lovely.
She's been here for 20 years.
Everyone from around the area This is in Binh Thanh district, not far from District 1.
So guys, do yourself a favour, come to Miss Nga's tiny little stall here and try her delicious, incredible food.
Luke's Lunch Lady.
Thank you, Miss Nga.
Now, you have to be quick because Luke's Lunch Lady opens from 10:30 in the morning until 12:30pm.
And just look at that sign -- 152/6A Dien Bien Phu.
Just follow that address and you'll find her really easily.
Luke's Lunch Lady -- check her out! I'm in District 1 at an area called Tran Dinh Xu, which used to be a market called Xhu Xi Ga.
Now, what it is, it used to be a wetland, so people used to dump all their rubbish here but today it's this happening neighbourhood where people, all the local people come here, to buy their local goods and, of course, awesome street food.
Now, what I love about these markets is that it's a very local market.
The people who are here live in the surrounding area, probably not even 500m away.
And you get all this fruit, vegetables very, very fresh.
And you can really get a sense of how people live in the middle of Saigon.
People come downstairs to have a, um, they buy their local meats.
It's a great little set-up for a butcher.
And you can just drop by with your motorbike before work, grab some spring rolls filled with glass noodles, woody mushrooms, carrot, and have some vegetarian noodles as well.
But I'm here, I haven't been here for a few years, so I'm gonna go all the way to the end and try to find one of my favourite dishes.
Now, what it is, liquid batter of rice, thin layer goes on top and it steams and becomes this beautiful, thin layer of soft, silky rice noodle sheet.
And then it's filled with a stir-fried pork with glass noodles and some shallots.
It's rolled up it's rolled up and then it's cut up with a bit of bean sprout and fresh herbs.
It's absolutely fantastic.
Oh, there it is! Great.
So I'm gonna put a bit of chilli in there.
You get all this wonderful noodle.
Now, check out this noodle.
It's freshly made, freshly steamed .
with pork and woody mushroom in there.
Dunk into your fish sauce Mmm! Mmm! - Yummy! - So yummy.
That's right.
It's just so soft it kind of melts in your mouth.
Really delicious.
Now this next one is the banh tam bi and it's from the south of Saigon, actually, near the Mekong delta, so they use a lot of coconut cream.
So a bit of bean sprout, a bit of cucumber, some of this beautiful noodle.
Pig skin with a bit of pork mixed through it and rice powder.
A bit of spring onion oil.
Some pickled vegetables, pickled carrot, chilli.
And then this is the best part -- the fish sauce goes on but this gorgeous thickened coconut.
Can you believe that this is, you know, found in this laneway right on the curb side? Wow.
So she was born in this neighbourhood.
She lives just around the corner.
This is her elder sister's place.
Her mother set up this stall when she was just 10.
So when I feel like this dish, or this dish here, I would come straight to this market because I know it's good, I know they've been doing it forever.
This is what's so special about street food.
Now, I'm right on the edge of District 1 and District 3, off to Tan Dinh market.
Now, what I love about these fresh markets, is you can buy everything alive.
You know, the fish is alive, the prawn's alive, the crabs are alive.
Or you can come here and buy the ingredients already been prepared for you.
So here we've got the crab claws, the crab meat already picked, so all that hard work is done for you.
Over here, for example, we've got .
some already prepared bitter gourd with minced pork, woody mushrooms, stuffed in the bitter gourd.
You take a couple of these home, you boil them at home in some soup and it's already prepared as well.
Here we have some stuffed tofu.
So throw that in the fryer.
It's got some pork in glass noodles in there.
All the hard work is done.
Now, she's making some beautiful cabbage rolls here.
So she's blanched the cabbage and blanched some spring onion, filled it with pork and woody mushrooms and it's prepared for you already.
So I will take around, you know, 12 of these home, make a little stock, boil those up, bit of rice, dinner is already done and served.
Love this.
Look at that.
Great big catfish there.
Oh, this is really interesting.
Wow, look at this.
She scrapes all the flesh off with just a simple tablespoon and it's gonna be pounded, marinated and then made into some bouncy, beautiful textural fishcakes.
I remember when I arrived at Saigon for the first time, I spent a lot of time in District 1, which is the centre of town.
And then I got a call from my Uncle Four, who lives in District 4, and he said, "Mate, come and visit me in my hometown.
" So I did and I was just blown away.
I mean, look at this.
I can smell all the aromas.
It's called Quan Oc Qanh, District 4.
Come check this out.
Here we have snails -- snails cooked in coconut juice, coconut cream, a bit of lemongrass as well.
So look at that octopus marinating away with a bit of chilli oil, garlic, fish sauce and the charredness of this.
The spiciness.
Wow! Some fresh prawns.
These look so juicy.
Chicken Feet.
I've got to get those chicken feet.
But one of my favourite dishes that I love eating here and my uncle introduced it to me, is crab claws.
Look at them! Wow! Now, they're precooked.
I'm gonna grab around 500g, around half a kilo, for myself, of course.
Uh one more.
Now, I love the simplicity of this dish.
I'm gonna throw in my claws.
And check this out -- chilli, lots of chilli, goes in.
In it goes.
Pepper -- salt and pepper.
Lots of pepper goes in.
Whoo-hoo! OK.
And then we've got some dried chilli as well.
That's all you need.
No oil or anything.
And then .
you just toss it around like that.
Get the claws active.
I don't know why they're all laughing at me.
So once the chilli gets all nice and coloured, that's basically it.
Look at that.
Oh, yes.
The smell of the chilli up the nose.
Whoo! Done.
That's it.
Do-it-yourself crab chilli salt street food style.
Now, how awesome is this place? It's like a food festival every night.
Now, when you're here, these are my go-to dishes.
Get into the claw.
Look at that.
Now I'm in District 5, in Chinatown, which is not far from District 1.
Now, look at this street.
It's called Lantern Street.
Now, this is very special.
It happens only once a month, the month of August, to celebrate Moon Festival.
Now, look at this strip.
It's fantastic.
I'm really excited to be here.
I've found this beautiful cart, really, really hot wok.
I'm gonna I'm gonna do a little dish.
This looks like, um, a bit of pork fat.
Look at that.
That goes in.
I really want the wok really hot, 'cause this rice noodle, I want it kind of charred, you know? Blackened by the wok.
And you get that beautiful breath of the wok as well.
Now, I'm gonna throw in a little bit of bean sprout as well.
I love this style of cooking.
A bit of bean sprout.
This is a very Chinese dish.
District 5 is Chinatown.
I'm gonna put a bit of this, uh This is dark soy sauce.
Just a little bit, not too much.
I'm gonna put a bit of soy in as well.
And now I'm gonna crack in an egg .
and just let that cook in between all the rice noodles.
Slice up char siu pork.
That's red colour.
He's got some greens as well.
A bit salt.
Typical street food.
Love this.
Look at that.
Oh! Now that's a really nice Vietnamese-Chinese dish hu tieu xao jung.
OK, I'm gonna let him take over.
- He's got a real customer now.
- No, I can do it.
OK, here we go.
I'll do it.
While I'm here I might as well.
What I like to do is steam my rice, dry my rice, and then put it in the fridge.
And once that's cooled, I bring it out and then I fry it.
He wants me to put the egg in.
So, he's run out of beef for this gentleman, so he says, "Can I put another egg in for you, just to make up for it?" And he goes, "Yeah, no worries.
" It's a really special month.
One, it's celebrating 70 years of Vietnamese independence from the French, and also Moon Festival.
Alright, so that's done.
This is 20,000 dong.
It's a dollar.
Now look at this.
It's hotpot.
Seafood hotpot with beef, tendons, tripe, fishcakes.
What it is, we've got charcoal right in the middle of the pot and air is just pushed through at the bottom and it's heating up all the charcoal.
The heated pot gets taken away onto the table.
You just enjoy it with vegetables and noodles.
It is fantastic.
This is Chinatown street food.
I'm here right in the heart of Chinatown at Cao Van Lau Street, number 142.
Now, this is my all-time favourite Chinese cart.
It's old, it's wooden and it's over 60 years old.
This family here has been making their own noodles here for that long.
They're from the northern part of China and it's called pho van ky.
- Pho van ky.
- Pho van ky, pho van ky.
Now, guys, you have to come here.
It's on this dark, really dark mystical street, and then you approach this cart and it's just illuminated.
We've got pig's stomach hanging here, we've got tendons, we've got intestines.
And this is the style of Chinese-Vietnamese noodle soup satay.
A lot of star anise, a lot of cinnamon, peanuts and we have a beautiful broth here.
Brisket, beef bones, cow's tongue.
Cow's tongue! They're so sweet here.
Oh, my God, they're just pulling my leg.
OK, there's no cow's tongue in this.
You are just just No.
OK, no cow's tongue.
These guys are hilarious.
They're very, very famous.
And he just told me next year, they've saved up enough money, they're gonna move to the States.
So get here very, very quickly.
This is uncle here.
This is aunty.
Big family! Big family.
Oh, I mean, they're still working, of course, but it's all about having fun and getting all the family involved.
Everyone here knows them.
If you see one of these carts in Chinatown, eat there because you know it's good.
Wow, wow.
What have we got? Ooh! OK, so we've got some spring onions, some tomatoes, some cucumber.
Some pepper.
Was that mine? Well, I'll have one, please.
He hasn't even made mine yet.
Look at that.
Look at that soup, guys.
I mean, it smells divine.
Oh, wow.
Oh! That's such a different flavour.
You know, I feel like I'm not in Vietnam.
I do feel like I'm in northern China, with all those different flavours and textures in the soup.
This is wonderful.
I can't talk more about it.
It's fantastic.
What's he doing there? Ah! This is cool.
So if you need more heat, pump some air and then it heats up the stock pot and it's boiling.
Look, it works! 'Cause it's all charcoal, right? Love that.
That's fantastic.
I'm gonna eat this.
Hey! Next time, in part one of Bangkok, I learn the art of patience as I wait to get my hands on some crispy pork belly.
I find a floating market that's off the tourist trail and brimming with seafood.
I then indulge in some slow-braised pork knuckle and get waited on by a four-legged friend.