Struck it lucky a couple of mornings ago while on the road for a pho bo (beef noodle soup) fix. A motorbiking butcher had just flung about 20 kilos of beef the way of the shack we were sitting in. Laid out on metal trays awaiting knife-wielding boss-lady's wrath, this beef was so fresh that I swear it was scared. This Bessy had possibly even been eating grass that very same sunny morning.
The knifewomanship demonstrated would have sent the three musketeers quivering back to the sword shop. Using a wooden handled cleaver, boss-lady started the surgery by skillfully slitting the clear, elastic-like fat sinew from the meat. At this joint, each noodle muncher is dosed with a thin little steak, which she uses same blade to tenderise, roughly mince and flatten. There's a lot of noisy knife-edge to chopping block action.
At the same time, the usual dunking scenario is underway with the noodles. Thrown in a bamboo sieve, lowered into simmering water, loosened with the swirl of a chopstick, they are bowled and scattered with herbs in a matter of seconds. Before boss-lady scrapes my meat from the chopping board, she carefully arranges some slices of chin (an already cooked kind of corned beef) over the noodles. On goes the slab of beef, which is cooked briefly in the one and a half ladles of soup poured on after. That's it, and before me I have pho bo tai chin, which roughly translates as noodle soup with rare beef and corned beef.
On a fine but cool morning, the extra hint of ginger in this soup gets my blood moving. Winter has reared its ugly head in Hanoi these past few days and the general consensus is that it is way too early. This stop out on the dyke road toward the hound houses and the night flower market may be worth putting the coat and gloves on for when mid-winter arrives in full force.
One bowl of tai chin, one of tai gan (rare beef and chewy beef), one serve of quay (a deep fried bread) - 21,000VND (USD$1.30, AUD$1.75)
Mau Pho Bo, 208 Duong Nghi Tam - up from the croc house on the same side