Fish in A Dress Shop – 74 of 365

Curry Fish

I’ve eaten a sandwich out of a film shop and now curry fish in a dress shop.   What’s next?  Bun cha at a pet store?  Actually, I could see that happening here.  But let’s forget the mental image of where that meat might come from.  I suppose the closest American equivalent to dress shop fish would be sticking a Sabrett hot dog stand by the cash register at Dress Barn.  I can see it now.  Buy two muu muus and get 50% off a slaw dog combo.

Densely packed Saigon never is what we see on the surface at first glance.  Scratch a little deeper beyond the tourist trail and out bubbles a whole new world such as this tiny shop called Basiroh at 33 Nguyen An Ninh.  While gawking from the sidewalk at this most interesting fusion of cloth and food, the English speaking owner, Akmed, approached me.  He then walked me through the three lunchtime choices on tap and invited me to try a bite.   No way was I passing on an experience probably never to be duplicated in my parallel universe called life in America.   With shoes off, I entered his shop and sat down at a metal table surrounded by hijabs and modest dresses.

Eating in a Dress Shop

Have you ever eaten a meal that took your imagination on a journey far from reality, even if only for a few bites?  Maybe that margarita and guacamole transported you to a beachside vacation in Mexico or some sushi put an image of Tokyo in your mind.  You get what I mean here.   Eating this halal curry food next to bolts of fabric plucked me right out of Saigon and dropped me somewhere deep in Malaysia.  Yes, a good meal should accomplish more than just tick off the box that we only ate something because the clock hands have moved into lunchtime territory.

Pan cooked fish with skin on but face removed looked promising enough swimming around in a metal pan.  No face is definitely the proper mealtime protocol to follow since eye contact with the food we are about to receive is most uncomfortable. Just trust me on this one folks.  A delicious golden curry dropped some sweet heat into the buttery fish and cooked okra and tomato added just enough bitter sourness to balance out the flavorful sauce.

After my buddy Kevin looked at a picture of the place I emailed him, he told me this is the food shop he and I had looked for one night about a month ago near the Ben Thanh Market.  Kevin runs gohalalplanet.com to guide mainly Indonesian and Malaysian visitors to halal food choices such as Basiroh.   How random that in this giant city I would happen upon this very hidden jewel that had eluded us once before.  Though I have no reason in the world to specifically seek out halal cuisine, I will be back to Akmed’s tiny little shop with its three tables.  $2 is a steal for a filling meal and a unique experience only Vietnam can deliver.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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