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Little Saigon, Uptown

#7: Viet Hoa

Viet Hoa ain’t much different from the neighborhood competitors on the surface. You got your canned Asian goods, rice noodles (over 40 different Ramen noodles), and dedicated area to supplies for the home altars many Asians have in their homes. But I got a bit of surprise when I rounded the corner.

Viet Hoa separates its self from its competitor, Hoa Nam, by offering a few more items for geared toward Filipino/Thai crowd  (I’m guessing here) and a few things in bulk. I don’t know what I’d do with a half a gallon of Mango puree ($7.50) being that I’m not a smoothie person, yet I found out it’s good in cake. Among the “strange” things I found :

~ Pickle sauce

~ Fried pork skin

~ Meatloaf encased in pork skin

~ Mud fish sauce

You’d think when you find such exotic items one would be inclined to seek out a restaurant where you could taste them. Meh, I’ll pass. But 33 reviewers on Yelp say this place rocks. I ain’t gonna argue with them. The one stand out was a brand I came across called NOH of Hawaii. They had a Hawaiian style curry mix that I will have to go back to get. I’m not a big curry freak but it’s easy to make in my slow cooker and lasts me for the week.

When I finished walking through the dry section and rounded the corner I thought I had walked into the employee’s section, only to realize I was in the mist of a mini wet market. Dead center of the room was a wide range of fresh produce, like fresh herbs that one would be hard pressed to find such as Asian basil, and ice bar filled with fish, with required sneeze guard. While I can’t eat fish (pesky food allergies again) I’m willing to bet that shoppers are getting their money’s worth. I defiantly could see making this the stop for that exotic cooking night.

Viet Hoa has been around in the Uptown area for over 30 years and was voted Readers’ Choice in 2008.

Viet Hoa Plaza // 1051 W. Argyle // Hours 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; 8:15 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday

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A visual journalist living in Chicago.

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