It turns out that Hai is not the only amazing cook in his 11-sibling family.
In fact, I often suggest in the late evening after our visits to the gym, “Let’s go visit chị ba (Sister #3)”. What I actually mean is, Let’s go have some really yummy bún riêu.” Hai never disagrees … off to Binh Thanh district we go.
Hai’s Sister #3 (together with her hubby and children) have been serving up some of Saigon’s most authentic bún riêu and bún bò Huế for more than a decade.
On a dimly lit Bình Thạnh district street, running between Chợ Bà Chiểu (more on this market soon in a future Eating Saigon! post) and Đông Hoa Xuân (Hai’s restaurant), Chị Ba’s little street food eatery draws in a crowd of locals every night (including various members of Hai’s family .)
Bún riêu, is a classic Vietnamese rice vermicelli soup with a richly-pungent broth having a tomato and pounded-crab base. Various culinary gems find their way into the bowl together with the unique Vietnamese-flavored broth and the bún noodles. Huyết (congealed pig’s blood), ground crab meat, nem chua and chả lụa (forms of Vietnamese sausage), fried tofu cubes, and an assortment of herbs and vegetables are the most common ingredients in bún riêu.
Sister #3’s classic bún riêu is actually bún riêu ốc (bún riêu with snails). But, for those who don’t savor the rubbery chewy texture of snail meat (I count myself amongst them), the plain bún riêu (“hold the snails”) and the bún bò Huế are most appealing here. And the bún riêu dạc biệt (special) is over-the-top! Rất ngon (absolutely delicious).
For sure, you must try a dash of mắm tôm (fermented shrimp paste) to spike the authentic flavor of the bún riêu. I suggest, however, that you apply the thick, purplish-colored, “stinky” mắm tôm sauce in eye-dropper proportions in order to add the essence of the bold flavor without knocking your socks off … unless, of course, you’re a seasoned Saigon street food eater.
And, for an extra treat, wash it all down with a sweet and flavorful nước mía (freshly squeezed sugar cane drink) that is prepared here by Thai, Hai’s handsome, body-builder nephew.
A nutritious and very yummy bowl of authentic Saigon street soup here costs just 20,000 vnd for bún riêu & canh bún; 25,000 vnd for bún bò Huế; 35,000 vnd for bún bó with chả and bún bò Huế dạc biệt.
Open from 6:00 pm to late (about 11:00 pm).
Chị Ba’s Bún Riêu
153-155 Lê Quang Định
Bình Thạnh District
View Chị Ba’s Bún Riêu in a larger map