The fast food landscape in Saigon is dominated by KFC, a questionably finger lickin’ good American fried chicken import that can be found on every one of the city’s major arteries. KFC is incredibly popular with Vietnamese youths and the rising middle class because it represents modernity and Western tastes (not to be confused with good taste). The establishments are also spic and span, air conditioned and offer free parking and Wi-Fi—amenities that are becoming increasingly important to locals. While I haven’t eaten at KFC in years, I’m pretty sure the Original Recipe hasn’t changed one bit since the last time I dug into a 10-piece bucket.
District 3’s Su Su restaurant specializes in cơm gà xối mỡ, a type of Vietnamese fried chicken that’s loads better than the Colonel‘s, but doesn’t draw the kind of crowds and birthday parties it ought to. I would most definitely rock the big 2-7 at Su Su if I were still in Saigon. What’s unique about Su Su’s chicken is the style in which it is fried. Hot grease is unleashed upon wings (canh) and thighs (dui) to order, and they’re served dangerously piping.
The chicken is prepared al fresco, which causes the air outside the eatery to smell like an intoxicating brew of bubbling fat and seared spices. This unique frying technique yields chicken with crispy skin and moist meat.
The fried chicken is served on a platter with a scoop of com do, a mild tomato-flavored rice, rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) and slices of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. There’s also a savory dipping sauce made of drippings, soy sauce and garlic that really brings the chicken and rice up a couple of notches. A minor tweak that would make Su Su even better is the addition of gizzards to their menu. Although gizzards may be a turn off to many, I love their chewy, unyielding texture.
And speaking of awesome fried chicken, my mom makes a killer lollipop fried chicken. Check out her recipe here.
59 Tu Xuong Street
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City