Located in the heart of Phu My Hung in District 7 is an old-style Chinese (Cantonese) and Vietnamese restaurant called Hoa Viet. Hoa Viet literally means Chinese-Vietnamese. This is a surprising find, since the majority of businesses and eateries situated in Phu My Hung are relatively new establishments that were built to coincide with the new city centre.
Hoa Viet, on the other hand, is an old establishment that originated in District 11 and relocated because the family moved house. The move makes sense, since it is not easy to commute from District 11 to District 7. In recent columns I have written more about old establishments in Saigon. The reason why I love old restaurants or institutions is that you can see, feel and smell the rich history of the locations. You will not get that with Hoa Viet in its new location, but what you will get are the old, rich flavours, and that is what I like.
A noodle cart, made of metal instead of wood and adorned with an old Chinese sign, sits in front of the restaurant, which is always good to see. The cart, where the restaurant’s special braised duck noodle and mixed assorted congee is prepared, is a show for all the al fresco tables.
The noodles looked good, but I saved them for another day and opted for a family-style meal instead (highly recommended). A family-style meal means you can sample an array of different dishes.
We ordered the steamed salted chicken, which is always a favourite, with a side sauce made of salt, pepper and vegetable oil. The chicken was tender and perfectly steamed. One surprise was the dau rong xao toi (winged bean, but also known as goa bean, four-cornered or Manila bean) sautéed with garlic. The menu lists the dish as dragon beans as a direct translation, but that is a different type of bean. This is an amazing dish, despite the naming error.
Another surprise was suon rang muoi, or salt-and-peppered fried pork ribs. What can I say? Looked good, smelled good and were very tender. Most fried pork ribs are tough, but these are my new favourite. Dau hu non chien muoi tieu, or lightly fried fresh tofu with salt and pepper, was also nice. This is a very delicate dish and is not so easy to make. It complemented a memorable squash soup with prawn, steamed whole red snapper with soybeans and rice.
336 Ha Huy Tap, My Khanh 4, Phu My Hung, D7
Tel: 08 54 138 282
6.30am – 10pm
Tristan Ngo is the Chef Patron and Owner of Skewers Restaurant and The Elbow Room.