Update: 09:16 | 10/06/2019
Chao canh or porridge noodles, a famous Nghe An specialty, is not a combination of noodles and porridge as its name suggests.
Many first-time customers mistake it for a kind of porridge, but it looks like udon soup. Vinh in Nghe An Province is where you can most easily find an eatery selling this since locals are not averse to eating porridge noodles at any time of the day.
Madam Vinh’s restaurant, which has been running for more than 13 years, is a famous address in the town center.
According to the owner of an old restaurant in the central town, the reason for the name is that the broth must be as thick as porridge. The noodle must be cooked for a few minutes unlike vermicelli and pho in the north, which are dipped in boiling water for just a few seconds.
To make this noodle, the chef often mixes wheat and rice flours. The owner of a popular porridge noodle shop on Hong Bang Street said the flour is mixed with water before being kneaded, rolled and cut. All of it is done by hand.
The noodle, after being cut, is boiled and the water is drained. It will be boiled one more time when there is an order before it is ready to be served. "An experienced chef will add one more step of putting the noodles in cold water so that they are chewy but not sticky," the owner said.
The broth, which is thick and full of aroma, is cooked with pork bones and spices. It is usually made early in the morning, and the longer it is cooked the tastier it gets. The dish is served with slices of pork, pork patties, boiled quail eggs, fish, or shrimp.
Despite its simple appearance, the dish has a very distinctive flavor. Its average price is VND30,000 ($1.3).
A bowl of porridge noodles is served hot with cilantro and spring onion on top. This dish is best eaten for breakfast. Before you dig in, don't forget to squeeze a slice of lemon or add some chili to enhance the flavor.
Some places in Vinh also serve crispy bread on the side. However, most places don't serve side vegetables, which can be a little disappointing for guests from the south.
Visitors can find a small shop that serves this popular dish opposite Quang Trung secondary school. Behind Vinh Citadel's south gate is another place to try this dish.