Monday, March 8, 2010

Lt. and Numi @ Pho Binh (Binh Soup Shop)

Ahh, the omnipresent pho. I never thought I would get sick and tired of it, but after a whole day of eating nothing but pho, I just couldn't (cannot) stomach it anymore. I guess the weeks of craving this awesome soup and eating at Pho Hoa didn't help.

Still, I knew we had to go and visit the Binh Soup Shop, or Binh Pho. I read about it online, and the fact that it served as the secret HQ of the Viet Cong (VC) during the Vietnam War was more than enough to make me want to go. When Nikki's couch surfing friends mentioned it over beer, I just couldn't help but go with them. For someone who loved reading (and hearing) war stories as a child, the historical significance of the soup shop simply cannot be ignored.

We found it easily enough in District 3, at 7 Ly Chinh Thang Street. From Pham Ngu Lao, the cab cost us about ... crap, I totally forgot how much we paid. I am pretty sure it was around 50,000 VND, though.

Anyhow, by that time, I couldn't really eat pho anymore. Lt. and I ordered one and split it between us. What really interested me was the current owner, Thuy, who is the daughter of one of the masterminds of the VC resistance in Saigon during the war. She was the first sight that greeted us - preparing the soup:
Well, second, actually. This is the first thing I saw:
Of course, I had to pose in front of this historically significant place.
That's their pho, with rare ground beef and beef strips. The hot broth cooks the beef right before you eat it. It costs 30,000 VND, the average price for a bowl of pho. To be honest, it was nothing spectacular but talking to Thuy and going around the house was more than worth the trip.

I just had to have my photo taken with her.
That's her dad, who died 4 years ago. According to Thuy, he lived a very long life because he ate pho tous les jours. (I guess these days, you can opt to go other routes to lose weight and live a long life...something like http://www.quicktrim.org should be easier, if more costly.)

Anyhow, she took us to the upstairs room where the captains of the VC met secretly. As the story goes, they would be meeting while GIs would be eating downstairs - oblivious to the fact that the people who owned the shop were plotting their demise.

The people in the photos were members of Thuy's dad's network. Thuy says they're all dead now, except for one.
This is a sort of altar, obviously. Aside from it, the room looks practically the same as it did during the war - down to the floor tiles, tables, and chairs.

I have to tell you, I felt chills running up AND down my spine as I stood in the room. If you ever find yourself in Saigon, make sure NOT to miss Binh Soup Shop.

8 comments:

  1. I love me some soup! I could eat it three times a day!

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  2. Sheesh. Your posts make me want to travel soooooooo bad.

    Anyway don't forget me some blouses and a skirt/dress. Promise I'll pay you back! Hehe. (Iba pa to sa pasalubong ha...Bilin ito. :P) Pretty please kahit i-credit card mo. Wahehe.

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  3. inggit na inggit na kameeeee! :P

    tara pho hoa tayo when you get back. hahaha ;)

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  4. Mel - I love soup, too. Pho for breakfast, lunch, and dinner proved to be too much for me, though!

    Han - I look forward to the day we'll go together! I think you'll love Vietnam!

    Noelle - Zao Cafe? :p

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  5. no way nikki. maybe some vermicelli with grilled pork and spring rolls.

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  6. I was just kidding. What and where were we eating again a week ago?

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  7. Hmm this time last week we ate at NGON!!! Waaah...hey you gotta call me I have AWESOME news for you. And no, it's not what you're thinking.

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