Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sui cao - Chinese traditional food in Saigon

Before 1975 Chinatown in Saigon could be one of the largest Chinatowns in South East Asia, but after the incident in 1979, the town had changed...a lot! No more signage in Chinese characters that I used to see, no more sparkling Chinese restaurants...with joyful, louder speaking became quiet, deserted for many years until early 1990s, the town began reviving!

As I'm living in district 5, right at the entrance gate to Chinatown, but every time with someone I try something there, it's always a new discovery to me! So many things in this vibrant part of the city! Tonight with friend I came to a small place in 125 Chau Van Liem street, famous for their homemade sui cao and noodles (different from dumpling noodles that I did review before). That place has been recommended by a Japanese foodie living in Saigon for 10 years!

            Fried sủi cảo - filled with meat and veggies, dip sauce is chili saté with soya sauce!  

Sủi cảo Đại Nương (Đại nương literally means Big Lady (!?), so hopefully she's a great chef too!) The most popular and probably favorite dish here is sủi cảo, so we have either steamed or fried ones! But there is something we need to know about this traditional Chinese dish! 

             Steamed sủi cảo are also good but we prefer fried ones!

Sủi cảo is important to many Chinese, as it's a part of their traditional meal during the Lunar New Year Eve, it's symbolized as the reunion after a hardworking year, away from home, now everyone in family gathering behind the dinning table for a good meal, good stories!
Sủi cảo fillings is chopped meat with veggies. I heard that the combination of meat and veggies sounds in Chinese  as "a fortune", when people prepare the fillings, how they chop is important - the longer, the louder they chop the meat together with veggies - the bigger and last-longer - their fortune! Interesting!   

At Sủi cảo Đại Nương they still serve some other dishes, but the second favorite here should be the beef noodles. I notice most customers order these two: sủi cảo and the noodles! You are given a sheet of paper like a menu, with a pen, but it's actually an order sheet as well, just select the dish and put the quantity next to the name, give it back to the waitress!

The beef noodles here served in a big bowl, so we usually share and I like the big noodles, soft but chewy and the soup as well. Flavorful, not too sweet, tasty and important - not oily as many other Chinese dishes.

         My small bowl with noodles - chewy noodles and tender beef!    

Chinese dish is popular in Saigon and I did ask my Chinese friends, what would be the best to taste. Different advices, different ideas. So sủi cảo at this small eatery in Châu Văn Liêm should be one of those many choices in Saigon. Here they have even frozen sủi cảo, so we can buy, take away and do it at home at any time!

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