It is a squally, drenching Sunday morning, almost cool. The cupboard is bare, bar the dog's breakfast and a yet to be sawn watermelon, curse it! What's a bloke to eat?
A steaming bowl of beef noodle soup (pho bo) seems like a feel-good rainy day feed.
We don the condom raincoats, dodge serious bucket-loads of precipitation and burn into the old quarter for brekky. Roadside, we are momentarily tripped up by the stunning vision of an army-green-hatted, blue-plastic-bag-raincoated lotus seller. Parts of these serene green floral numbers can indeed be eaten. We concede, in a two minute bartering spat: two bunches of lotuses and one of Hue lilies for 20000VND (USD1.26, AUD1.67). A steal!
Florally armed, we slide to a stop outside our pho bo slurp station. By the time I disentangle myself from the raincoat, my bowl of 'Asian breakfast cereal' is banged on the table before my eyes. What a spirit bolster! Pho Bo is flash dunked fresh rice noodles, chopped herbs and slivered tender raw beef all drowned in a simmering, lovingly concocted broth of bones, onions, ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick.
There are variations on the theme at this 28 year running soup stop. Sot vang is chewy beef, chin is like a kind of corned beef, tai lan is beef stir-fried briefly with garlic before being flung in your bowl. It's all cow here!
Three big boss sisters run the operation, which is staffed by six or eight mischievous teenage country boys who entertain themselves by hiding each others sandals and hogging the back room fan's cool airwaves. They'll get hold of a tra da (iced green tea) from passageway tea seller next door if asked nicely.
Two bowls - 22000VND (USD1.38, AUD1.83)
One green tea - 1000VND (USD6c, AUD8c)
Pho, 45B Bat Dan (directly opposite Bao Lam Beef Steak)