The Mi Quang Quest
Mi Quang is a noodle soup from central Vietnam, full of soft yellow noodles, prawn, pork, quail eggs, peanuts and shredded lettuce and herbs.
It’s one of those dishes that sound like the ingredients don’t go together. But somehow the flavours work, especially the surprise bursts of mint and the crunch of bean sprouts, peanuts and rice crackers.
Mi Quang tastes unlike any other Vietnamese soup. It is also the soup of love.
It’s the breakfast that Darling Man brought to me nearly every day when I brought the tiny Miss M back to Vietnam. She was only two months old, with a halo of black hair, and we were all in a fog of sleepy happy love. Darling Man and I were so proud of our gorgeous little bundle, who charmed every single person who set eyes on her.
I was a sleep-deprived new mum, who every morning thanked my good fortune to have found a baby-daddy who did not appear to need sleep. No matter how many times he was disturbed by Miss M during the night, Darling Man was always his usual sunny self in the mornings. Unlike me.
And so he’d jump up and take the dog for a walk while I slept in. He’d eat his breakfast on the street somewhere and then buy a takeaway serve of Mi Quang for me. He’d leave the Mi Quang on the kitchen table and toddle off to work.
A few hours later, I’d stagger downstairs and heat up the Mi Quang broth and compile my breakfast soup, feeling so loved and lucky.
We only lived in that house for a few months. I lost my job in Ho Chi Minh City and was offered a full-time position in Singapore, so we packed up the baby and left the house – and our dog – in the care of my brother-in-law and his family.
We returned to Vietnam to celebrate Miss M’s first birthday and I was so looking forward to having Mi Quang for breakfast again. But Darling Man discovered the local Mi Quang man had disappeared.
And so began our Mi Quang quest. We were on a mission to find a new Mi Quang supplier.
The mission, which began in late 2010, may finally be over.
Darling Man and I have eaten many many bowls of Mi Quang on our search for a replacement supplier. And, until last weekend, not one bowl has been anywhere near as tasty as those lovingly bought serves of takeaway Mi Quang carried home by Darling Man.
We’ve tried Mi Quang with duck …
… with fish cake …
… supposedly authentic Mi Quang …
… Internet-recommended Mi Quang …
But nothing was quite right.
None of them even contained the purple noodles that our old Mi Quang guy had.
Until I spotted a little roadside stall near the bridge in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2.
Darling Man and I tested it out on Friday night. He walked our newly-reclaimed dog and I rode the bicycle with Miss M on the back.
As usual, things didn’t go to plan. Miss M, who’d refuse to nap that day, fell asleep on the back of the bike.
I hauled her off and she slept on my shoulder as I sat in a tiny plastic chair on the side of the road, slurping noodles beside her ear. Let me tell you, there’s a bit of a knack to eating noodle soup with someone sleeping on you.
The verdict: I think we have a winner. It’s still not as good as the morning Mi Quang I remember. There’s no purple noodles, for a start. But it’s still gooooood, the best version we’ve tried since we lost “our” Mi Quang guy. And our new place is within walking distance from our house.
The only downside is that the stall is only there at nighttime.
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248 days ago