Lunch Lady on Sunday – 151 of 365

Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang

Recently I departed the Lunch Lady’s domain with no clue what that delicious Thursday special had been.  This time I arrived armed with paper and pen but turns out I had no need to shove them in the Lunch Lady’s face for her to write down what Sunday brings.  Remember the Phnom Phen noodle soup Helen introduced us to recently?  As luck would have it, the Lunch Lady’s heaving cauldrons and overflowing food cart gives birth to a similar soup on this seventh day of the week. As the saying in these parts goes, this is some “same same but different.”

Sunday at the Lunch Lady is a treat.  Her soup is a take on hủ tiếu Nam Vang for sure but with her own special touch.  The same slightly sweet clear pork based broth forms the canvas with the customary ground pork, liver slices, celery leaves and more painting a savory, slightly sour picture.   This one, however, is slightly elevated with three giant pink shrimp and a hard boiled quail egg.   Thankfully a bird hadn’t yet incubated inside that egg as in Vietnam one can never be sure.

Having learned from eating hủ tiếu Nam Vang the first time, I passed on the liver slices as I don’t see the benefit of eating an organ that processes waste.  The liver seemed rather benign in comparison to a surprised I received as I ate down into the soup.  My meal literally stuck its tongue out at me.   Yes, tongue.  Well, we believe it to be tongue based on the sandpaper texture much like a cat’s.

Tough One To Eat

Tongue.  Where do we even begin?   It’s brown.  It’s thick.  It has the same bumpy skin as the one you are probably all of a sudden aware of now in your own mouth and running along your teeth.  Think for a moment what this is all submerged in that soup awaiting ingestion.

I told myself I think I can and boldly snatched that tongue right out of the bowl with my chopsticks.  Peer pressure is a wonderful motivator.  I maneuvered it to my mouth with great precision and speed, but something got the better of me.  My confidence momentarily waivered and the chunk of flesh splashed back into the bowl.  My friend Anneke shook her head in disbelief and announced to no one in particular that she may have thrown up a little.

People all over the world eat this mess, right?  My chopsticks once again fished this offensive mass out of the soup and I bit into it.  For lack of a better phrase…Oh my God.  OMG.  Oi zoi oi in Vietnamese.   I expelled the pasty meat chunk from my mouth but not before it was wrapped in a blanket of expletives.   The people around us had to have been thinking get these novice morons out of here.

With about a half dozen sets of eyes fixated on me, I tried it again and this time swallowed.   Oi zoi oi to the highest degree.   The texture is much like a processed McDonald’s Chicken McNugget.  The taste is ok, but once that mental image of a cow waiving its tongue at you forms, it could taste like Dom Perignon or crème brule and I’d still not be able to finish it.

Minus the tongue, hủ tiếu Nam Vang at the Lunch Lady is a Sunday treat.  I will  be back another Sunday again soon.  Oh, and I just realized only her Saturday line up remains absent from my lunch rotation.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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