Vietnam is a popular South East Asian destination for many travelers because of not only its stunning landscapes and beautiful people, but also because of the delicious and diverse array of cuisine there. From the ingredients used to the method of preparation, one dish may have many variants throughout the country. Vietnamese pig brain soup is one of these dishes’ kinds, with special ingredients: crab meat, quail eggs, and pig brain.
What is Vietnamese pig brain soup
Pig brain soup is called sup cua oc heo in Vietnamese. It literally means crab soup with pig brain. It is not really a proper meal and is usually served in a small bowl/cup for taking away. The Vietnamese usually have it for breakfast or as an afternoon snack for a fun hang out with friends. Vietnamese parents back then thought that the pig brain is nutritionally rich and therefore urged their kids to have it. But that was more than 20 years ago when Vietnam wasn’t so globalized and parents didn’t have access to different kinds of foods for kids. Now we import so many varieties and therefore, pig brain soup has become a dish for adults.
French colonization had a lot of impact on Vietnamese cuisine. For example, when the French brought the baguette to Vietnam, it evolved into what Vietnamese have for breakfast – banh mi. Com tam (BBQ pork rib rice) is another. The pig brain soup has a similar origins story, but not when it comes to ingredients – only in the method of preparation of the soup.
The main ingredients of the soup are crab meat, quail eggs, and pig brain. However, there are additional ingredients one can experiment with such as mushroom, coriander, green onions, tapioca starch and egg etc. The egg will give a great consistency to the broth, and this consistency can be altered depending on the amount of egg or tapioca starch you add to the soup. Other optional ingredients include shredded chicken, shrimp, and century eggs. No matter what is put inside, the most important factor here is the pig brain so you’ll be surprised when you hear that you can order this dish without the pig brain, haha. But really, you should be up for this delicious challenge.
French colonization had a lot of impact on Vietnamese cuisine.
Where to find pig brain soup in Vietnam
Pig brain soup is a local Vietnamese street dish that not every traveler knows of. Even so, it can be found in any local market in Vietnam. However, it does seem as if Southern residents love eating this more than those in the North, so Saigon would be the ideal location for you to go on a pig brain soup hunt.
Where to find the best pig brain soup in Saigon
1. Sup cua Thao, Ho Thi Ky flower market, alley 57, Ho Thi Ky street, D. 10
Sup cua Thao is probably the most famous place in Saigon for pig brain soup. Located right next to the Ho Thi Ky flower market (the biggest flower market in Saigon), this place is always packed with people, either enjoying the meal there or just queueing up to get a takeaway. The bowl here is bigger than other mentioned places on this list and here also seems to be the only place that offers the century egg to go with pig brain and other aforementioned ingredients.
This is a very interesting neighborhood. Ho Thi Ky is a super local flower market with very delicious street food dishes served in various stalls. You will also see gorgeous flowers everywhere, so that is a plus! You can also find a Cambodian sweet soup (Che Campuchia) store just a few steps away, tasty fried banana (chuoi chien) and a lot of other interesting dishes too. So, take your time to wander around after a bowl of soup.
2. Sup cua Dung, Nguyen Huu Hao street, D. 4
Sup cua Dung is a very local place and pretty tricky to find. You have to cross Ong Lanh bridge from District 1, take the 1st left turn, and then you will see an intersection that links with Nguyen Huu Hao street. Turn left here and go a bit further and you will finally come across the sign of the stall on the right-hand side. The place is your typical Vietnamese shop with small, blue tables out on the sidewalk by the stall. They don’t have century egg here but still, the brain option is available for you.
Operating hours: 4 PM– 7 PM
Price: 15.000 VND for normal soup and 25.000 VND if you want to include pig brain.
3. Sup cua Dang Van Ngu, 176 Dang Van Ngu street, Phu Nhuan District
This spot on Dang Van Ngu street has a bigger space compared to the others. Besides pig brain soup, you can also try out some others such as shrimp soup, beef soup or chicken soup. It’s a world of delicious soup!
Operating hours: 4 PM– 9 PM
Price: 15.000 VND normal soup and 25.000 VND with pig brain.
4. Sup cua Hoa Binh, 84 Nguyen Du street, D. 1
How to eat pig brain soup
Unlike the wrap and roll dishes, you don’t need any kind of skill set to eat this kind of dish. But some advice before trying it would be useful. So here you go:
- This tastes best when eaten hot. So, don’t let it cool down.
- If you are going to try out the pig brain, go early by the opening time of the spot. Every ingredient is fresh and therefore, tastes better.
- You are going to eat it hot, so no need to rush it. Enjoy each spoon as it comes.
- Make sure you are not allergic to mushroom or seafood like crab or shrimp. Mushrooms are normally an essential ingredient to make the soup taste better.
Now, you are ready! Try it and let us know if you felt smarter?
Name of dish: Sup cua Thao
Address: Ho Thi Ky flower market, alley 57, Ho Thi Ky street, D. 10
Opening hours: 2.30 PM – 5 PM
Price: 30.000 – 50.000 VND.