Beef noodle soup Pho is a popular dish in Vietnam and Hanoi Pho restaurants claim to have the best and most authentic recipes.
It is a familiar scene that many Pho restaurants in Hanoi are always crowded during breakfast time. But a small stall in Hang Chieu Street is no less busy despite its strange opening time.
For the past 30 years, the anonymous Pho stall which opens at 3 am when most people sleep and closes at 6 am when the city wakes up.
I set the alarm clock at 5.30am on a recent cold winter morning and rushed to the stall but the owner, a middle-aged woman, smiled friendly telling me that she had sold out and inviting me to come another day. Already familiar with the media, she said, "If you want to take some photos, you should come at 4 am when we are busiest."
The Pho stall is very simple which the woman carries here in just two hangers and a shoulder pole. A large pot containing Pho broth is put on a coal stove in a hanger while noodles, beef, and some other ingredients are put on the other together with small stools, bowls, spoon and chopsticks.
The stall owner said that this kind of Pho vendor was very familiar in the past but now only she has continued.
"I follow my parents to continue this stall here," she said. "We serve workers who do night shifts, traders at night markets or those who go out late."
The woman said that she has familiar customers who come to her stall every day.
"There are not many restaurants open at this time so my stall is always crowded," she smiled.
The stall only serves beef noodle soup and price for a bowl is VND40,000 (US$1.70), which is a bit higher than some other stalls. Customers don’t complain as the bowls are bigger and taste good. Besides beef noodle soup, the stall also has tea and orange juice.
"I am a regular customer here for nearly five years," a worker named Trung said. "I love the beef noodle soup here and is always grateful to the stall owner to provide food to us after tiring night working shifts."
Trung said he and other customers didn't mind having to queue and wait a long time to be served as the stall is usually crowded.