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Street Surprise

Caristallthisach

You don't expect to see anyone 'non-Vietnamese looking' flogging food on the streets of Saigon, but that's what I found at 7b Thi Sach in District 1 today. This mini stall, parked in front of a house, sells one dish only - Cari De (Goat Curry) - and is run by a couple of sisters whose relatives "a long time ago" came from India. They speak in Vietnamese, but know Urdu and a smidgen of English. They inherit their Indian looks, and endearing head wobble, although they adhere to strict Vietnamese fashion sense for females and deck themselves out in regulation pyjamas. There are a slew of Indian curry restaurants in Saigon, but this is the first time I've seen the dish sold as streetfood. The pot, just visible above, holds 4 kilos of curry or "enough for 100 customers" one of the sisters told me. She went on to say they serve 500 dishes a day which I find very difficult to believe, but I asked her three times to confirm the number and she repeated it three times. That's a nice little earner for a small street stall with one miniscule table... 500? Hmmm??

Carisetthisach

The main dish comes with Com Ni (which I understood to mean Ghee-fried rice) and a side dish of spicy aubergine. The curry was decent and a lot better than most of the Indian restaurants in town which all tend to be sauce heavy with the meat cooked separately (At least that's the way they taste and look to me). This pot had clearly been cooked in one batch. The goat, potatoes and sauce found mutual benefit from this method with bags of curry punch packed into each spoonful. That’s not to say it was one of those uncomfortably hot, chilli-drenched arse-shredders – it wasn’t. In comparison, the rice was bland. However, the aubergine was excellent and I didn't sense any threat to my lower internals from this dish either. The sisters told me there’s plenty of passing trade who are happy to stump up 20,000VD for a takeaway. I saw two customers buying grub during my 30-minute lunch stop banter, but no signs of the feeding of the 500. That said - I'll be back. Nice find.

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Comments

Hi Noodlepie,

Indian food in Vietnam? Interesting indeed. I love Indian food and this looks pretty good. I'm sorry the rice was a disappointment. Was it just because there was no flavor at all? Ghee is usually oily, was this one oily as well? Those pieces of eggplant look huge!

Great find! I usually have CA RI GA (chicken curry) with piping hot BANH MI (bread) to dip in the sauce. Next time you're in the mood for curry, try picking up a fresh baguette beforehand -- it'll be better than with rice. Enjoy!

That looks really good. I would never have thought to find Indian food in Vietnam...it's amazing how their roots shine through their dishes. Thanks for sharing.

You're right Reid, Ghee is pretty greasy with next to no flavour. Would have preferred plain rice -personal choice that's all. As for the Banh Mi Mary, they offered me one, but I asked for rice instead. It didn't occur to me to have the bread - I'll give it a shot next time. And Stef, you might be surprised, there's quite a large South Asian/Hindu/Muslim population in the south of Vietnam. There are quite a few mosques and hindu temples knocking around. Unfortunately, I don't know the migration history of the people themselves.

I have already spent two hours on your site just reading the reviews and looking at the pics, man i'm starving now...
Keep it up Pieman :)

Looks pretty good to me, a little taste of home for the expat Englishman. I remember visiting a Hindoo temple in Saigon, which was almost deserted. I tried chatting to the caretaker (I speak a little Urdu) but it turned out he was a Tamil, as apparently were most Indians in Vietnam. I think the majority fled Saigon in '75 as they were mostly businessmen and shopkeepers of one kind or another, and only the poorest and most indigenised remained. Fantastic website.

Mike - I hope you got your feed:) Alexander, thanks for the info. There's a couple of Hindu temples I often pass in town, just wish they served food too, like the Mosque I blogged many months back. BTW - I'm a John Buchan fan, that's an interesting site you've got going although I couldn't get the funeral vid to work.

If there were more Hindus in Saigon I imagine they would serve grub as well (most temples in India seem to), but I think the community's pretty tiny. Glad you enjoyed the Buchan site. I've had some problems getting the links to media files to work on it as I think the programme I've been using is too primitive. A pity Richard Hannay never made it as far as Indochina, but I suppose he was too busy monkeying about in South Africa.

Incidentally Alexander, in the Sunday Herald Magazines' 100 Things To Do In Scotland Before You Die Buchan comes in at no.82:

"Read The Thirty-Nine Steps and try and recreate Richard Hannay's journey
Clutching your well-thumbed copy of John Buchan's spy thriller, zig-zag across the moors and glens of Dumfries and Galloway by train, car and foot, staying in inns and under the spring stars, in the style of literary hero Richard Hannay."

Remember that in VietNam, or in my experience at least, we dont eat curry with rice, we prefer bread^^.

I returned to this place today... goat curry is now 60.000 ... I think I got a bit of the "nguoi nuoc ngoai" discount but I ordered in Vietnamese, so it couldn't have been the "nguoi du lich" disount. Still, gives an idea of the rise in food prices. I think the guy next to me paid less than 50.000 but not much.

That is quite a steep rise in prices. I wonder how much of that rise was in the last 8 months? Anyway, good to hear she's still in business, cheers for the update.

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