Bean porridge with tofu, pickled eggplants in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

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Ms. Oanh’s porridge shop on Dao Duy Tu Street is a favorite of many Hanoians.

It is not difficult to find the eatery: Once you reach the corner of Luong Ngoc Quyen and Dao Duy Tu streets, you can hear cries of “green bean porridge” and “black bean porridge with eggplants.” Just follow the sounds.

The shop consists of just two pots of porridge and a few plastic chairs and tables. But despite the humble appearance, it’s always filled with customers who come to eat or take away.

It was opened by Ms. Oanh’s family 10 years ago. The main dish is bean porridge, a simple common dish in Hanoi, especially for the generation born between the 1980s and 1990s.

Bean porridge used to be sold commonly on the streets. Older people liked to eat porridge for breakfast after some morning exercise while young people preferred it as a light snack before dinner. Nowadays only a few places still sell this rustic dish.

A bowl of bean porridge with tofu, pickled eggplants and pickled radish costs VND24,000 ($1).

A bowl of bean porridge with tofu, pickled eggplants and pickled radish costs VND24,000 ($1).

As the name suggests, the dish comprises porridge, tofu and pickled eggplants. Diners can choose between green bean and black bean porridge and can also add salted eggs and pickled radish. A regular bowl costs VND13,000 ($0.56), while one with all the extras costs VND24,000 ($1).

In the heat of the Hanoi summer, a bowl of green bean porridge is a good way to cool down. Each grain of rice is cooked until smooth and soft. Despite being on the stove all the time, the porridge is not too hot or smells burned. Since it has no seasoning, it is better to eat it with savory toppings.

The most delicious topping is fried tofu. After being fried, the tofu is marinated with fish sauce and spring onions. When serving, the chef cuts large pieces of tofu and puts them on top of the cool bean porridge.

The pickled eggplant is also a highlight of the dish. The eggplant is salted and moderately pungent. Customers can also ask for salted eggs and pickled radish. The salted egg is cut in half and placed on top of the porridge.

Crispy fried tofu marinated with onion sauce is a typical feature of the dish.

Crispy fried tofu marinated with onion sauce is a typical feature of the dish.

Open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, the shop is most crowded in the morning, at noon and in the late afternoon. Guests can either sit on the sidewalk and enjoy the bustle around them or take away.

The most popular combos are “green bean porridge with tofu, eggplants and egg” and “black bean porridge with tofu, eggplants and egg”.

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