The Astronomer, his sister and I returned to the especially delicious block of Ly Chinh Thang Street in District 3 for lunch the other afternoon.
While most street vendors usually sell only one or two dishes, this vendor sells at least five different ones. Without a kitchen at her disposal, I’m not quite sure how she’s able to offer so much variety. Her mise en place always seems to be well stocked too! Incredible.
Last time we ate here, she suggested that I try bún gạo the next time I visited. My family eats a lot of Vietnamese food, but bún gạo is not in the rotation. In fact, this was my very first bowl!
Bún gạo is a close-relative of bun thit nuong, bun cha gio, bun thit xao, etc. The major difference between them lies in the noodles. Whereas the aforementioned dishes employ fresh rice noodles, according to the vendor, bún gạo uses old rice noodles that are reconstituted in boiling water and sauteed in oil. The result is a thinner and coarser product.
Strips of scrambled eggs, fried tofu, sauteed chives and spinach, thit xao (beef with lemongrass and onions), greens, herbs, peanuts, shallots, and cha gio were piled on top of the noodles. The entire concoction was splashed with nuoc cham.
The verdict? Bún gạo is really good. The dish was fresh, cool and full of variety. The fried egg and sauteed greens were my favorite components. Sometimes with big bowls of noodles, I experience a bit of palate fatigue. However, with the wide range of flavors and textures present in this dish, I effortlessly killed it.