Vietnamese version (bản tiếng Việt): click here!
41 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Featured in local news: https://vnexpress.net/tiem-mi-hon-50-nam-cua-gia-dinh-goc-hoa-3980365.html (warning: local news is written in Vietnamese!)
There was time that I love it so much that I really ate it everyday, to the point that the owner remembered my face and my order! And the local diner with delicious dumplings soup is To Chan (Tô Chấn), which my family and I became regular customers there. I heard from my mom that about several weeks after I left for the US, the owner asked her why I hadn’t stopped by… So, when I launch the page “Vài món hay hay” to store Vietnamese version of all posts, I wrote about my favorite dumplings place first, with all of the memories!
I went there almost every night during my final year of undergraduate, with my old bike and all of my appearance spoke of a tiring-and-quite-poor student. I always ordered a bowl full of dumplings soup without garlic chives, no wet facial napkin and iced tea, just ate the hot dumplings soup. Yet no one there looked down on me (side story was that other diners did look down on me when I stopped by after school and dressed up like I mentioned above). The owner always welcomed me with a big smile, like “Oh, there you are again!”, and “Just leave the bike here, I’ll take care of it.”… even though it was a very old bike. It was always heart-warming to me every time I was there… and also “warm” my stomach too!
Yup, the stomach got “warm” with a hot bowl of dumplings soup! And the broth had all the characteristic flavor of the Vietnamese-Chinese cuisine. Don’t know why but I love the Vietnamese-Chinese style’s noodles rather than the Phnom Penh style, even though the Phnom Penh style’s noodles also have delicious broth made of pork bones. Probably because of the char siu pork, the characteristic flavor… and the reasonable price that I fell in love with the Vietnamese-Chinese style’s dumplings and noodles.
Being in the US for more than 2 years, I tried but unable to find the dumplings bowl of my memory. Vietnamese restaurants or diners here did not have the correct flavor, and Chinese restaurants or diners serve pure Chinese cuisine. There is no harmony like the Vietnamese-Chinese cuisine in Saigon. So I had to make the dumplings myself, and bought those premix spice cubes/jars in Asian grocery stores for that flavor, trying to comfort my craving of dumplings soup. One day, when the pandemic is over, coming back to Saigon, hope To Chan is still there and I would love to eat my favorite bowl of dumplings soup everyday.