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Jun 30, 2011 09:58 PM

Found at New May Wah Market-- Red Boat Fish Sauce made in Vietnam

Relatives have said for years that the fish sauce in America (which mostly comes from Thailand) can't compare to the real stuff from Vietnam. Rampant counterfeiting of labels (3.5 crabs vs. 3 crabs vs shrimp vs pink labels vs. blue labels) meant careful scrutiny of every bottle to make sure we weren't buying crap from a fly by night operator. After eating in Saigon, I had to admit that the nuoc mam did taste better there, although not enough to haul it home with me.

So this may be of interest to cooks of Vietnamese food on this board: New May Wah Supermarket in the Richmond is selling bottles of nuoc mam nhi under the Red Boat label that are bottled in Vietnam. Only ingredients are salt and anchovies from Phu Quoc, which is apparently the place in Vietnam for anchovies. $4/bottle --two different strengths: 40 and 35. The smaller bottle is the 40, which is stronger and more intense. (I don't know why you would buy 35--just buy 40 and dilute it with water if it is too much for you.) Flavor is very good--smooth, round, intensely fishy with a slight sweetness. Is it worth the extra buck? I thought so, but your mileage may vary.

New May Wah
719 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

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  1. I have been using Red Boat for a while and can attest to it's intesity and overall quality. It has also been very consistent and reliable, which is nice, to not have to worry about whether it is the real stuff. I use the 40N almost exclusivley, although the 35N is also quite nice and works great as an addition to soup bases and even BBQ sauces.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Landarc

      I love this product too - you can also find it at the Sigona's in the Stanford Mall and at the Redwood City location - makes for a great fermented ketchup.

      I have been recommending it to my classes for ketchup and even for kimchi....

      Sigona's Farmers Market
      399 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto, CA

      Sigona's Farmers Market
      2345 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA

    2. Today's New York Times food section has a short article about it:

      If you go to Red Boat's web site, you can find more places to buy it. I haven't tried it yet, but I love fish sauce!

      5 Replies
      1. re: The Librarian

        Thanks found 3 East Bay sites including my recently recommended Sontepheap Market
        New Saigon Supermarket
        950 International Boulevard
        Sontepheap Market
        1400 International Blvd.
        Mekong Market
        1613 International Blvd.

        Sontepheap Market
        1400 14th Ave, Oakland, CA

        1. re: wolfe

          I just got some from Sontepheap Market last weekend. It is a huge step up from other Vietnamese fish sauces I've tasted. I was also excited to pick up a culantro (ngo gai) plant in a recycled water bottle.

          Sontepheap Market
          1400 14th Ave, Oakland, CA

            1. re:

              i always feel bad when they bring me ngo gai at Viet places. like cilantro, it tastes soapy so this somewhat rarely provided herb is wasted on me.

            2. re: wolfe

              About a month ago I bought the Red Boat 40 in the 17 oz. (500 ml) bottle for $8 at New Saigon Supermarket on Int'l Blvd at 10th Avenue in Oakland. The bottles were located on the counter next to one of the cash registers.

          1. This is absolutely anchovy essence in the best way, wonderful product. Costs @ $6/250ml bottle for the '40' from the supplier shipped.

            1. their website lists it as being alreayd available at manila market, bi-rite market, faletti foods, 24th st cheese company, and tuong phong market....can anyone confirm?


              4 Replies
              1. re: vulber

                Also Hiep Thanh, Tuong Phong Market, Le Beau Market, Cheese Plus and Real Food Company. I bought mine at one of the places on an older location map and I now see 5 places closer to my home. They are doing a real good job in merchandizing. Why not just try the closest place?

                1. re: wolfe

                  AND at Rockridge Market Hall and Star Grocery? If so, how wonderful.

                  Rockridge Market Hall
                  5655 College Avenue, Oakland, CA 94618

                  1. re: PegS

                    And Monterey Market (personally confirmed).

                    1. re:

                      And Sigona's in Redwood City. They had the #40 on sale, for $7.99, I think. This was about a month ago.

              2. I think Red Boat is the best nuoc mam nhi that i've tasted since leaving Viet Nam in 75. I am glad that the owner of the company chooses to produce the fish sauce using traditional, artisanal way. Now, hopefully people outside of VN will know what a good nuoc mam should be. The addition of MSG, sugar, preservative gave nuoc mam a bad reputation. Unfortunately even now in Viet Nam nuoc mam of this quality is becoming more rare.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hlv2eat

                  I agree - this is the best product out here - I just restocked my supply with 10 cases for future fermentation workshops