The Lunch Lady is among the brightest stars of Saigon’s food scene. Most of the tourists to Ho Chi Minh don’t leave without trying The Lunch Lady once. Let’s find out the answer how this small stall becomes an iconic food attraction of Saigon.
The Lunch Lady is owned by Nguyen Thi Thanh. She is also the chef of this food stall. It has been a well-known eatery among the local, but until 2009 when it appeared on the food show “No Reservation” hosted by Anthony Bourdain did it gain such a huge international recognization. On the show, Bourdain flipped over the taste offered by The Lunch Lady. After that, the Lunch Lady became one of the musts for travelers on their vacation in Saigon. From that on, it has continuously received positive and or even overwhelming review from all the big names of the traveling and foodie blog and journalism, for example, Mark Weins – a travel blogger and a Youtube star with one million subscribers.
The fascinating fact about this food stall lies in the way it distributes the menu: Seven menus for seven days of a week, each with different dishes. The customers are left with a feeling that they didn’t know the place well enough because they only get just a part of The Lunch Lady’s cuisine for each visit, that is why people keep coming back instead of finding someplace new. They always have something to expect for in The Lunch Lady. We could sense a very smart business strategy used in here.
You can expect to see a lot of backpackers and tourism among locals sitting on small plastic chairs under the shade of a lush tree. The Lunch Lady, unlike its spectacular fame, looks very ordinary and simple. You will see the famous Lunch Lady – Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh wearing a conical hat and standing right behind the glass stall. She looks amiable and welcoming. Coming from the Middle part of Vietnam, she is not an expert or skilled chef from a big restaurant. All the experience that she has is gained from her experience as a mom and the main chef of the family. And that’s why eating in The Lunch Lady will ensure you a very unique and local food experience.
Despite the rising fame, the price of all dishes stands still. It is actually no more than the normal price of any nameless food stall out there in Saigon. Don’t freak out and get frustrated if a bowl for foreigners is charged more than for the local, simply because foreigner’s proportion is larger than the normal one. The truth is the average Vietnamese eats less than people from the West and other countries.
Before setting out to The Lunch Lady, don’t forget to preview the unique menu of the Lunch Lady!
Monday: Bun Thai (Thai Vermicelli)
Tuesday: Mien Ga (Vermicelli with chicken), Bun Moc, Mi Quang (Quang Vermicelli)
Wednesday: Mi Ga Tiem, Carri, Bun Thit Nuong ( Vermicelli with grilled pork)
Thursday: Bun Mam (or Vietnamese gumbo)
Friday: Bun Bo (Vermicelli with beef)
Saturday: Banh Canh Cua
Sunday: Hu Tieu Nam Vang
It would be the best that your stay in Ho Chi Minh is about one-week long, then you can visit The Lunch lady every day and try out all of the dishes without being bored.
And finally, don’t forget the address: Block D, Nguyen Dinh Chieu Residental Towel, Đakao District, HCM City.