When visiting Ho Chi Minh City, no one ever leaves without paying the acclaimed Lunch Lady a visit. This internationally-renowned street food stall—located just a few steps away from popular pho joint, Pho Phuong 25—is famous for their down-to-Earth, rustic charm and menu that rotates daily.
The stall made its mark less than a decade ago after the late, great Anthony Bourdain visited them as part of his food programme, No Reservations. Until today, Lunch Lady is still highly patronised by locals, tourists, as well as food bloggers from around the world—like us.
The humble stall is owned and run by Ms Nguyen Thi Thanh, also known as the Lunch Lady. An international street food icon, her modest stall in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 is packed daily and for good reason–her food is truly out of this world. Period.
The moment you get yourself seated down, you are welcomed with an abundance of side dishes from deep-fried prawn fritters to an assortment of traditional Vietnamese spring rolls. Feeling rather stuffed, and with our stomach’s set on trying Ms Nguyen’s ever-popular Thursday Noodles, we decided to give the sides a miss.
For those of you pining for a taste of legit Vietnamese spring rolls, you’ll be happy to know that the snack is available here too. Having it alone won’t leave much of an impression, but accompanying it is a special dip that you simply must try.
A beautiful harmony of sweet, savoury and umami notes with an assertive characteristic of dried shrimp and roasted peanuts, the sauce really does elevate the taste of the spring roll, allowing the fresh herbaceous qualities from the basil to really shine through.
Lunch Lady specialises in serving noodle dishes with a different variant on the menu every day. We got ourselves what she calls, the Thursday Noodles (50,000 VND), and what it is is basically noodle soup dish with generous amounts of roasted pork belly, sliced pork, large prawns, fish cake, morning glory (kang kong) as well as cuttlefish.
The ingredients were fresh and for what the dish was worth, we were utterly shocked by how generous she was with her ingredients, but more so by how incredibly tasty the entire dish was from the rich broth to its individual components.
The broth was a hearty mix of deep, meaty flavours with a hint of savoury seafood, perfectly melded together to form a concentrated yet deeply satisfying combination of flavours. Despite it being so simple, the manipulation of skill and passion really showed, and every spoonful of the flavourful broth propelled our tastebuds into gastronomic nirvana.
23 Hoang Sa Street
Phuong Da Kao, District 1 (Quan 1)
Tel: +84 93 388 79 22
Daily: 9am – 3pm
For more recommendations, read our Ho Chi Minh City’s guides to discover the best places to visit in the city.