Food File: Surprise Herbal Chicken Soup

A few months ago, when morning sickness was making me feel wretched, mainly in the afternoons and evenings, Darling Man decided to treat me to “medicine food” in the form of Chinese herbal chicken soup.

It was a dish I’d never tried before and so had absolutely no expectations, apart from eating something Chinese-y.

As much as Vietnam’s former ruler and current bullyboy neighbour is disliked by Vietnamese people, China has had a strong influence on local cuisine. Especially when it comes to food-as-medicine.

Darling Man said Chinese herbal chicken soup was considered a cure for nausea and a general tonic. He said the use of a special black-boned chicken gave the soup almost magical powers of restoration.

Naively, I believed him.

He gently drove me to a foodie street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 3. I was expecting we’d end up in District 5, the city’s Chinatown area known as Cholon (big market). But Darling Man said this Chinese medicine soup place had a better reputation than any of its rivals in Chinatown.

We settled in. I flipped open the menu … and started feeling queasy again as I read through the specials list.

Surprise chicken soup

Darling Man took a look at my greenish face and said he’d order for me. He said the oriental medicine soup would suit me better than the ginseng soup.

Naively, I believed him.

The food arrived quickly, in cute little bowls with lids.

It looked so innocuous.

Until I plunged my chopsticks in and pulled out ….

Surprise chicken soup


It was all I could do to keep down breakfast, which was quite a few hours old. Or faint.

Darling Man gallantly said he’d eat mine if I didn’t want it.


Darling Man is not actually surprised, just pulling a funny face because I was taking photos of him ... again.

Darling Man is not actually surprised, just pulling a funny face because I was taking photos of him … again.


And then we went to another place to eat. My only stipulation — no more food with a head. Not this pregnancy anyway.

If you haven’t done so already, like The Dropout Diaries on Facebook

7 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Talon says:

    I’m an adventurous eater, but I think I would’ve lost some stomach contents with that one.
    Talon recently posted..Review: The Lotus and the Artichoke

    • Barbara says:

      Adventurous eating takes some fore-knowledge, I think. I was not prepared for the head at all. And the surprise was made worse by the fact that we had a Silkie chick at home, a very cute pet chicken. (Black-boned chickens are known as Silkies in Australia.)

  2. no no no no no. was NOT prepared for that. want to die. no.
    the lazy travelers recently posted..jetsetters: @BespokeTravels

  3. Colleen says:

    Ah black chicken, with head, perfect pregnancy food. Not. This was accidentally one of my first meals in China. What a welcome!

  4. Oh dear… that’s disturbing! lol I would have felt ill after seeing that.

    BTW, I stumbled on your blog by accident googling tips for taking toddlers to Vietnam as we are heading over for a holiday in April. Loving your adventures!

  5. Whether pregnant or not, that does not look appetizing.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Can I live here forever?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge