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During the two years that I lived in Hanoi, I would get up early once each week to walk one kilometer to indulge my second favorite breakfast treat - Cháo Lòng Gà (rice porridge with chicken "innards": liver, heart, kidney, etc). In the winter months, the weather was cool - sometimes bone-chilling misty wet in the mornings. But the cháo lòng gà was a great start to launch the day.
Here in Saigon, it's a different story. The day starts very warm and heats up from there. So, I've had to adjust my routine a bit to enjoy my cháo. First forget the one-kilometer walk to breakfast. Air-conditioned Bus #30 does just fine :-) for me. Then, to enjoy a bowl of hot porridge, one needs comfortable, air-conditioned surroundings. This is where Cháo Hà Nội comes in. Several steps above Saigon street food, Cháo Hà Nội provides me with a cool and peaceful place to ease into the day with my bowl of hot porridge. And the porridge itself is very nice. The actual porridge (rice gruel) is only slightly flavored. But, I add a several drops of fish sauce and a few dashes of ground white pepper. Then, sprinkle on the chopped greens and scallions (all provided at the table). I always top it all with a generous dash of chili pepper sauce. Now, it's some delicious cháo! And, of course, I love the meaty flavors of the tim, cật, and gan (heart, kidney, liver). Something feels healthy to me about a warm bowl of porridge filled with organ meats (although I realize many of my friends don't agree :-) ).
So, after enjoying my a classic Vietnamese food item, I pay my bill (about $2.50 USD); walk out the front door, turn right, take about 10 steps and complete my East Meets West experience with a hot or iced cappuccino at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf right next door. Another wonderful morning in Saigon! Other great Saigon eateries and eating tales at: WWW.EATINGSAIGON.COM
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