Exploring a two-decade-old “Chao suon” cart vendor in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Even without a sign board, the street cart vendor has had nearly 20 years of serving an uncountable number of foreign and local foodies.

A cart vendor in Ngo Huyen street, Hoan Kiem district is one of the most well-known and old-school addresses for people who are addicted to Chao suon, known as rice porridge (also called congee) stewed with pork ribs. Exploring a two-decade-old “Chao suon” cart vendor in Hanoi’s Old Quarter Toppings for Chao suon on the cart vendor. Photo by Ha An. Even without a sign board, the street cart vendor has had nearly 20 years of serving an uncountable number of foreign and local foodies, who sit comfortably in plastics stools and enjoy the super hot Chao suon. Mrs. Mai, the owner of the business, said that she used to wake up in the early morning to prepare four to five congee pots for a day from the morning until around 10.pm. This kind of food is more suitable for cool weather than the scorching one thanks to its hot serve. Traditional Chao suon is quite easy to make with simple ingredients including milled rice flour and stewed pork ribs. However, the one made by Mrs. Mai has its own recipe and unmistakable tastes, which are hard to find in other vendors. Exploring a two-decade-old “Chao suon” cart vendor in Hanoi’s Old Quarter In the scorching summer, foodies may also enjoy Chao suon with a cup of ice tea or ice dracontomelon brew. Photo by Ha An. Foodies may find the pleasure savoring a bowl of Chao suon with the sweet taste from the ribs and smooth, ivory white congee without being clotted or over-cooked. Chao suon is usually served with the crispy finger-shaped souffle' batters, known as quay, which are cut into small pieces and topped right in the congee instead of in a separated bowl or dish. To make Chao suon more special, the vendor also serves pork floss or sliced pork cartilage with the traditional bowl. Foodies are usually suggested to add ground pepper and red chili powder to Chao suon in winter weather because it will help warm you up. Chao suon is a favorite choice for locals as well as foreigners in Hanoi not only because of its affordable prices, just around VND15,000 (US$0.65) to VND25,000 (US$1.1) a seve, but also its convenience of serving as both a main dish for breakfast or lunch and an extra meal in the afternoon.
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