The woman is preparing my breakfast, a 65 cent plate of bột chiên, which is rice flour and tapioca starch cubes, fried on an iron skillet, often with an egg, then sprinkled with bits of oiled scallion. Served with pickled carrot and turnip shavings, bột chiên is drenched in a sweetened and diluted soy sauce, and this lady also adds a few leaves of fried yu choy, a great idea.
Originating in southern China, bột chiên has long been a Saigon favorite.
Since bột chiên is very popular with kids, she sets up in the morning near an elementary school, then moves to a residential alley in the late afternoon. With no classes on Saturday, her business is greatly reduced, but this also means I have no problem claiming a plastic stool on the cracked concrete sidewalk.
Two weeks ago, there was a dead rat near her cart, so I merely turned the other way to enjoy my bột chiên. During a lull in business, she noticed the offensive sight and promptly got rid of it.