Marrying a do-it-yourself spirit with simple but tasty stir-fry dishes, this humble noodle stall is on its way to satisfying even the pickiest of eaters in Saigon. By Khoi Pham. Photos by Vinh Dao.

Does the presence of broccoli ruin your appetite? Have you ever made one too many alterations to your lunch order and landed on the receiving end of your waiter’s stink eye? If you said yes to either of the above, Fastnood is the place for you.

Amid the bustling atmosphere of the nearby Thai Binh Market, the restaurant appears to be like any other Vietnamese food stall: wooden tables and chairs, standard sets of condiments and metallic holders chock-full of chopsticks. The difference lies in the way you place your order: for each dish, customers are free to choose from a dozen different types of carbs, vegetables, proteins and specially-made sauces to go with the dish.

For carbs, Fastnood offers an array of options from local classics like pho, egg noodles, hu tieu, or vermicelli to the Japanese favourite, udon. Protein-wise, choices range from the usual chicken, beef and seafood to xa xiu, or Chinese-style barbecued pork, and salted fried fish. For the more gastronomically adventurous, try the ostrich meat on offer (spoiler alert: it tastes like chewy beef).

Another feature that distinguishes Fastnood from other restaurants is its accompanying sauces: each and every one is unique and adds a distinct flair to the dish. Those with a sweet tooth can go for the teriyaki sauce while spice lovers will be happy with the richness of Sichuan or the subtle sour notes in Tom Yum. Each meal, with a combo of sauce and vegetable soup, costs from VND 39,000 to VND 49,000, depending on your choice of meat.

The menu also features classic combos for those who just want to enjoy a good, simple noodle dish and can’t be bothered with the mix-and-match madness. Mien xao hai san (VND 49,000) is an all-time favourite consisting of chewy vermicelli and seafood with crunchy stir-fried bok choy and Chinese cabbage. If you’re looking for some Chinese fare, then the com xa xiu (VND 39,000) is perfect, with xa xiu, broccoli and fried rice topped with a generous sprinkle of crispy fried shallot, all of which goes great with a dash of spicy Sichuan sauce.

Once you have placed your order, sit back, relax, sip on your Thai milk tea (VND 15,000, with a choice of red or green) and enjoy the amazing sounds and smells of your food being prepared. There’s just something about the fragrance of sizzling garlic and the clanking of the wok that makes the waiting even more unbearable.

123bis Cong Quynh, District 1
Tel: 09 06 933 468
10am – 11pm