Side-dishes are portioned out at the 211 porridge stall in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi.
The menu includes 50 side-dishes, some meat-free. All are prepared by hand. They range from familiar dishes served with white porridge including salted duck eggs, braised pork, pickles, shredded pork to less common ones like sausages, fried salted cabbage and eggs, and goby fish braised with black pepper.
These dishes have proven to satisfy the appetites of Chinese, Vietnamese and even foreign visitors.
The most requested dish among foreign customers prior to the Covid-19 pandemic was canned mangrove crab. "Mangrove crab broth has a sour and sweet taste. Many customers love eating their porridge with it," Lan said.
Stir-fried and boiled vegetables like lotus root, broccoli, string beans and bok choy, sauteed water spinach and fermented tofu all add a unique character to the porridge.
Braised mushrooms with black pepper, steamed duck eggs with vegetables, string beans and two portions of porridge are priced at VND45,000 ($1.96). Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi.
Due to the large number of side-dishes, each is separated by color to determine their individual price. For example, yellow plates cost VND10,000 ($0.43), blue one VND15,000 ($0.65), and red VND20,000 ($0.87).
The stall only has plastic tables and chairs to serve a maximum 20 customers. It is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, becoming the most crowded around 10 p.m. as commuters make their way home from work.
Lan also sells sticky rice, steamed rice, pork rib porridge, minced pork porridge etc., priced from VND20,000 ($0.87).