Not so long ago a great miến gà crossed my path, and I thought what luck to find such an amazing treat in a Chinatown back alley. The wonderfully clear broth went down so nicely and left me wanting more. Even the tender white meat chicken was of most proper sanitization for my western tastes.
Fast forward to a walk around the Binh Thanh District and an entirely different beast bearing the same name reared its interesting head. This version of chicken and glass noodle soup shares no commonality with its Chinatown cousin other than in name. This wasn’t even the oft heard, “same, same but different.” I mean this was a totally different recipe and warrants its own stop on this food journey.
Missing was the sweet nectar I lapped up that sultry evening in Chinatown. The cloudy saline liquid filling this bowl harbored a further unexpectedly salty surprise. Sodium must be the dinnertime theme for brown, very salty bamboo was a key ingredient. Normally I enjoy bamboo in my foods, but this one was as if it had been brined in the ocean for a month. It tasted ok in a strange sort of way. OK, I lied. It really wasn’t that good, but I was trying to stay positive here. And the whole time that nagging little voice inside my head was saying don’t eat the bamboo. You’ll be sorry!
Well, I ate some of it. The greasy broth had me picturing MSG by the shovel load being tossed in with reckless abandon. This is after all the country where MSG is consumed like there’s no tomorrow. Even the supermarkets sell it in 10 pound bags stacked high like sacks of dog chow back home in shrines to what can be created in a chemical laboratory.
I didn’t even bother to consume the chicken which was the whole purpose of this meal. The fat and skin were bad enough but how the heck do they ruin the white meat? I mean it was so tough and rubbery, it was not even edible. It’s a lot like how I would imagine gnawing on a dog’s chew toy were I to ever be so inclined.
Needless to say, while walking home this food started doing a number on me. No, thank God not that kind of intestinal distress! Rather, I developed an insatiable thirst and drank bottle after bottle of water. Water poisoning was now in the back of my head as I imagined the scorch job all this salt and H2O were doing on my kidneys.
For an entire night and day my body held fast to all this water and I felt like a bloated pig wallowing around Saigon. Troi oi! I asked myself what the hell did you do to yourself? It was like someone had attached me to a garden hose and set that sucker on high. Sweating only made matters worse since I felt compelled to replace that lost water with even more that all my cells then sucked right up. What a vicious cycle all from some horrible broth and bamboo pieces.
Nobody ever said eating in Vietnam is for the faint of heart!