Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two Bowls of Hu Tieu Mi

Remember last year when Nam took me to his village to eat soup? Well every time I eat Hu Tieu Mi now, I can see his lips forming the correct pronunciation: "Hoo- Tee Yoo - Mee." One day we had to practice saying this all the way home from school, and he made me form the "oo" sound by sticking my lips out in a very unnatural way.

(Btw, I just shuddered when I wrote "practice saying this all the way home from school" - it's so nice to be grown up now).

I don't go to Nam's village to eat it anymore, because the last time (when K and I took her mom and dad), too many rats were running around the construction site near there and no matter how good a soup is, rat presence diminishes flavor. But Nam made me aware that my "won ton soup guy" actually made something mainstream, and that there was a whole wide world of these soups both on and right outside my street. So I have added the quest for a new Hu Tieu Mi spot to my Soup Search, and yesterday I made Saturday into kind of a contest, having it for both breakfast and early dinner. I'm doing all of this for my family. Talk about sacrifice.

Here is a breakdown of what Hu Tieu Mi is:

Hu Tieu= rice noodle soup

Mi= egg noodle soup

Hu tieu mi= rice noodle and egg noodle soup

The rice noodles are white and the egg noodles are yellow - both are thin. Go ahead and say it, and stick your lips out in a very unnatural way when you do it.

Hu Tieu Mi can come with many fun additions, as well, like my won ton guy's tasty little wontons and hard crunchy wafers. Shrimp often drops in, as do "pork balls," groud pork, lettuce, bean sprouts and lettuce.

So for breakfast I went outside of the alley and crossed our street (Nguyen Canh Chan) to this little cart. If you look closely above the cart - just to the left of the steam - you can see across the street to the sign that says "pho." Well, that is where K and I get our weekly dose of pho from the most smiley and gracious women, and the thing is that I had to walk past them to get to the Hu Tieu Mi cart. I felt funny doing that, because of course the chicken pho is quite popular in the mornings and they saw me cross. Memories of the Pineapple Lady Scolding came to me, but I crossed anyway, feeling very disloyal but that my soup search required this act.

Here is it: I guess it is only Hu Tieu because no yellow egg noodles made it in, but as you can see, it came with a prawn and ground pork. Oh, and it also came with liver...little slices of liver.

Even just those little slices permeated the soup with liver flavor. I made a note of it for my dad's soup list (since he digs liver), paid $1 and got sideways glances and no wide smiles from my pho women on my journey back to the castle.

I like the market soups much better. The ones without liver and that require no perfidy.

About ten hours later, I was ready for Hu Tieu Mi Round 2 and finally tried this bright yellow spot, which is about a twenty-minute walk from the castle on the main, main street, Tran Hung Dao. It's called Tung Hung - Pork Chop Noodle - and it is always bursting with people day and night. I've been meaning to try it forever. Now look at how beautiful this soup is:

It had everything...the wontons, the shrimp, the pork balls, and both yellow and white noodles. The best part, though, was the "pork chop." The pork came on two bones, and it fell right off of them when touched, and I'm sure it's what made the broth so tasty. The wontons were especially delicious, too, and I got my new favorite juice mixture to go with it, which is carrot/strawberry. I guess that, in general, the rule is that if a place is bursting with people day and night, what they are serving is probably bursting with flavor, too.

The cost of this soup: $2.30. But I will definitely pay the extra money and walk the extra distance for that pork and the broth that comes from it.

Back to Nam - the cowboy who introduced me to high quality Hu Tieu Mi and so much other great food. I see him almost every day when I pass him in his spot on Tran Hung Dao. He is usually reclining back on his seat, relaxing, looking very happy not to be driving me around every morning. But what do I know? Maybe, someday when he is drunk he will bring Minh to the castle and I will find out that he really misses me.

But for now, he usually just looks up out from under his Seattle Firefighter baseball cap and gives me a nod, a smile and a wave as I pass, and then goes back to passing the day comfortably.


Cecilie said...

Loved the soups and had no idea you could find even better soups in walking distance from your castle. Enjoy as many as you can while you´re there! :0)

Mungo said...

Just can't get the term "pork balls" out of my head... kinda frightens me.

OF COURSE he misses you. We all know how that feels... >sniff!<

Brian Bowker said...

This weekend Kristi and I watched the movie "The Tale of Despereaux" in which the king outlaws soup. The movie was just OK, but about half way through it seemed to loose coherency (though that could be partly due to the fact that Kristi and I tend to watch movies in 10 minute increments now...).

But anyhow, no soup! Can you imagine?

The Norris Clan said...

Can you Fed ex some of that deliciousness to Bellingham?and i agree with Mungo... We know how Mom feels. I just sent My baby to his first day of Kindergarten. I miss him but am so glad he's there, not here :-) I'll be waiting for the Fed ex truck!