While staying in Hoi An, Elijah and I found a lot of delicious food to try, but there was one place that we kept coming back to every day. The first day, while riding our bikes around the old town, we veered off into some neighborhoods to check out the scenery away from the town center, and we rode past a little restaurant with an outdoor kitchen and a few tables underneath pomelo trees. As we rode by, we heard a lady call to us to come eat there; and we decided that we would come back to try it out. After riding around the alleyways for a while, we parked our bikes under the trees and saw that it was a duck phở (bún măng vịt) restaurant. If you’re not familiar with phở , it is a delicious Vietnamese soup with rice noodles and can be made with beef, chicken, duck, or other types of meat. I love phở because the broth is so good, and because of all the toppings that come on the side—limes, mint leaves, lettuce, bamboo shoots, chili sauce, and bean sprouts are often added to phở, and if I have the option, I add them all.
This place had the most delicious phở I had yet tried in Vietnam, and eating outdoors was really nice. The owner, a lady named Thanh Nha (sounds a bit like Tanya), originally from Saigon, befriended us and sat with us to chat each time we came. She told us about her family, and how she came to live in Hoi An, and most of all about her two daughters. Every time she talked about them, she got tears in her eyes. Right now, she doesn’t make enough money to support them living with her, so they live with her sister an hour away in another town, and she gets to see them a few times every month. She told us that she is excited about owning her restaurant, which she only opened a month ago, because she is hoping to make enough money to bring her daughters home to live with her. On our last night there, I was sad to say goodbye to her. I love that even traveling, you can meet people in places you knew nothing about before, and knowing someone there adds even more value to that place in your memory after you’ve left.