When I travel, food come to my utmost priority and it is a blessing that my partner shares the same rule of thumb. As this was a very impromptu visit, we did almost nil research and only start googling when we checked in the hotel. Ho Chi Minh itself is a small city and we were staying in the central of everything so initially we didn't really felt the need to google for food. It was only on the second day that our taste bud were continously disappointed by the tasteless food of the streets that we decided to start looking.
The boyfriend found The Lunch Lady and quoted that she served the meanest bowl of noodle. The Lunch Lady was just another street vendor back then until in 2008, she was featured by Anthony Bourdain in his show No Reservation. The location is rather secluded, under a shade of a huge trunk of tree - almost in the middle of nowhere. The only way for you to get there would be by cab.
Apparently her menu varies depending on what she can get from the market at that particular day. The day I was there seems to be this bowl of beef noodle in a slightly spicy broth with a sweet after taste. I don't know what it is in Vietnamese though. Language is a huge barrier here and ordering food requires a lot of your talent in sign language if you're not local.
It is quite a big portion but based on what I read online, portions for tourist is slightly bigger - with extra dongs of course. It tasted very home cooked and fresh. I wish it was much more spicicer but the home made fish cake was the bomb. I also really liked the two cuts of beef. I get why it is featured on the tv - with very little choices of delicious food this is indeed the best food in Vietnam but definitely not the tastiest food I savored.
The spring rolls seems to be a hit in most tables and we ordered a portion too.It came accompanied with a bowl thick sweet sauce with peanuts and cut chilies. I didn't really enjoy this national dish of Vietnam. It was too green for a carnivorous like me.
Almost every nooks of streets and corners of Vietnam, you'll get people serving coffee. I had an average of 8 cups per day and while most places serve the coffee half empty, this place serve it almost full. Coffee tasted like any other place of in Saigon, thick and buttery. Very addictive.
So if you're in Ho Chi Minh and wants to give the lady a visit, it is located at : 23 Hoong Sa St., District 1.
Try to get the bell boy to write the address in Vietnamese every time you're heading out by cab, save hell lots of time!