A Chinatown Gem
By Tristan Ngo

This month my journey to dine where the locals dine took me to a hidden gem in District 11 called Tiem Com Truyen Ky, a Hakka (ethnic Chinese) style cuisine, which originated in Guangdong and Fujian provinces. I have to thank my wife for bringing me here. She is, after all, Chinese and originally from Chinatown, or Cho Lon as the Vietnamese refer to it. The ethnic Chinese and their cuisine has been a part of Vietnam for centuries. Their influences are quite evident, from the wonton to congee to moon cake.

This restaurant is situated on the right hand side, 20 metres down a small alley off of Ly Thuong Kiet Street, not far from the Coop Mart. It’s rare in Vietnam to find a Chinese restaurant that is situated on the ground floor, and this one is no exception. The restaurant sign is quaint and easily missed if you’re not looking for it. My suggestion is to follow the small crowd and the motorbikes as you venture down the small alley.

You’ll know you have arrived when you see the brightly lit place buzzing with people as you make your way up the stairs. You may have to stand around and wait for a table. Take the opportunity to see what others are ordering from the menu, which is in Vietnamese and Chinese. There are no prices listed anywhere but the check will not break your wallet. Tables and chairs are cramped closely together to maximize the number of people. There seemed to be your typical groups of families dining there during our visit.

Here are some dishes they had on offer:
Hu qua ca ot, a beautiful combination of stuffed tofu, bitter melon, and red chilli with marinated fish paste.
Gio heo pha lau, pork knuckle with grilled innards.
Tender salty steamed chicken with spring onions and cilantro.
Trung ba mau, three-coloured eggs omelet: a combination of duck, salted and century eggs.
Sautéed Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce

Everything was served with bowls of steamed rice.

The soup of the day, which is meant to be sipped during the meal, was interesting. A very light broth made from an assorted combination of vegetables, chicken, tripe or pork.

There were eight of us and the bill came to VND 564,000.

Tiem Com Truyen Ky
39/20 Ly Thuong Kiet Street
Hem 39, Ward 7, D11
11am to 2.30pm and 5pm to 9pm
09 08 62 36 23 or 09 09 62 36 23

Tristan Ngo is the chef and owner of The Elbow Room and Skewers, two popular restaurants in District 1. You can contact him at ngotristan@yahoo.com. 

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