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Fermented Fish Soup @ Bun Mam Soc Trang in Oakland

k
kairo Jan 23, 2012 12:14 AM

Happened to be in this particularly colorful part of Oakland on Saturday and picked this Vietnamese joint from reviews on yelp that mentioned Fermented Fish Soup.

Having never had nor heard of this soup I figured I should give it a try.

The soup was excellent. Full of thinly sliced pork belly, some crispy (well not really anymore) pork skin, and what seemed to be a mix of fermented and fresh fish. (maybe the fresh parts were just less fermented tasting). The broth was a bit fishy, a bit fermented tasting, but also relatively sweet. Definitely a unique flavor, and not at all off-putting. If you like fish sauce than you've had stronger fermented flavors. Noodles were thicker bun bo hue style noodles, not thin vermicelli.
Apparently you can ask for shrimp paste if things aren't pungent enough for you.

My wife had a combo rice plate with shrimp cake, egg loaf, and bbq pork with broken rice. Outstanding all around.

They have fun drinks that are harder to find. This is the only other place I know of besides Little Vietnam Cafe on 6th ave (SF) that has those unlabeled fresh pennywort juice bottles. They also have the soymilk ones which are great as well.

On weekends they give free dessert, which that day was a coconut milk, seaweed, mung bean and tapioca noodle mixture. pretty darn great and not as overly sweet as some of those desserts can be.

They used to have sandwiches, which is the only other reference on chowhounds, but they no longer make them from what I can tell.

Sorry no pictures, but you can find them on yelp anyway.

The fish soup is their name-sake dish, and also seemingly most popular. A group of middle aged Vietnamese ladies all came in and gobbled up 4 bowls of it in about 5 minutes. Oh, you can get it with or without the pork. I personally would pick the one with pork...

Cash only. Super super nice waitress. Clean. Funky neighborhood for those that are concerned about that kind of thing. Next door to a fried fish joint.
They seem to be open 830 to 6.. (closed today, Monday the 23rd for the new year)

Bun Mam Soc Trang
1326 E 18th St
(between 13th Ave & Solano Way)
Oakland, CA 94606

  1. DezzerSF Jan 23, 2012 08:15 AM

    FYI, they also have pennywort juice at Lee's on Larkin, although it's labeled.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DezzerSF
      k
      kairo Feb 4, 2012 01:15 AM

      last time I saw the pennywort juice at Lee's it wasn't the bright bright green I'm used to. Closer to the brownish color that canned pennywort juice has. I wasn't sure if it was a different recipe, or just older.

    2. drewskiSF Jan 23, 2012 08:34 AM

      I asked and was told the fermented fish makes the broth. The fish chunks in the soup are fresh.

      2 Replies
      1. re: drewskiSF
        k
        kairo Feb 4, 2012 01:16 AM

        There were some definite chunks of funky fish in my soup that day. Nice soft fresh pieces, then strangely chewy pieces. At least I hope that is what it was. Good all the same.

        1. re: kairo
          k
          kairo Oct 29, 2012 01:11 AM

          I am replying to myself to scold myself for not recognizing that those "strange fish pieces" were sliced pork belly. Woooops!

      2. jillyju Jan 23, 2012 12:32 PM

        The Goi Cuon (fresh rolls) are really excellent. Clearly made to order, and the peanut dipping sauce is very tasty. I've also had the Bun Thit Nuong with Cha Gio a couple of times and really enjoyed it. The noodles in that dish are perfect, the vegetables fresh, and the generous serving of grilled pork has nicely caramelized edges. The Cha Gio that comes with it is good too--not the best I've ever had, but solid.

        This is a favorite place for me--though I've only been a few times because their hours don't really match up well with my work hours.

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