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Saigon’s ‘coolest noodle stall’ amuses all but authorities

Saturday, March 28, 2015, 08:47 GMT+7
Saigon’s ‘coolest noodle stall’ amuses all but authorities
The stall owner (R) is pictured at his eatery under the funny introduction banner in Ho Chi Minh City March 27, 2015.

Nguyen Hoang Anh Dung immediately won the hearts of local customers and the ‘the coolest in Ho Chi Minh City” title for his bun bo stall with a set of hilariously written rules, but local authorities do not seem amused.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

* April 1 update: Dung gets his sign back

Dung sells bun bo, or Vietnamese noodle soup with beef, along the pavement near a condominium in District 4. His stall is known as “Bun Bo Gan” (beef tendon), as the dish mainly features that part of the cow.

The 48-year-old put on the nearby wall an introduction banner and a set of rules, and anyone who happens to read them cannot help but laughing aloud.

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“We only accept banknotes with face value of VND500,000 at most… No foreign currencies are accepted,” one of the lines on the “restaurant rule” banner reads, which even foreigners would find amusing even though they must exchange their dollars for the dong to enjoy a bowl of the typical Vietnamese dish.

The first line of the rules reads, “Do not be talkative and criticize the store owner on the Internet,” then comes, “This is not Hue-style bun bo. You are not allowed to complain even it tastes awful. You are required to empty the bowl. You have to pay even though you cannot eat it.”

The other rules are no less laugh-worthy.

“In case you cannot pay immediately, please leave your home ownership or marriage certificates as collateral. In brief, any kind of paper is accepted, except for the toilet one,” reads the third line.

If customers manage to hold back laughter through to the first four rules, they will surely burst out laughing with the final one.

“In case you read all the rules and your bowl is now freezing cold, we are not to blame for any responsibility. Thanh kiu [Thank you]”

 The “Bun Bo Gan” stall has gone viral after pictures capturing its funny rules surfaced on the Internet earlier this week.

Most customers found the rules amusing and dubbed the stall the coolest in Saigon.

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Dung obviously received more customers who came out of curiosity, and managed to sell out earlier than usual.

But on Thursday night, when Dung was cleaning his eatery, some officials from the ward-level administration arrived out of nowhere and removed the viral rule banner without telling him a word, he recalled.

The act was filmed by some customers, who then uploaded their videos on YouTube and caused yet another stir regarding “Saigon’s coolest bun bo stall.”

The videos received positive comments from most netizens, who wondered why such a hilarious set of rules could be deemed to have breached the law.

‘Offensive wording’

Dung told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Friday afternoon that he had asked the officials to book the case, “but they said it was unnecessary and asked me to be present at the ward office the following day.”

An officer from the ward police unit refused to comment on the case when inquired by Tuoi Tre.

Dung eventually worked with the ward authorities on Friday afternoon, after which he received a report saying his banner is deemed offensive and “caused traffic disorder” as it attracted curious people, which blocked the way to the condominium.

The banner was thus seized and will only be returned to Dung when he runs his business on fixed premises rather than on the pavement, according to officials.

The stall owner agreed to follow the decision, saying he only wants to “normally do business.”

The wall at his stall now only bears the introduction banner, which is as funny as the seized one.

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Although the stall opens at 3:30pm and closes at 7:30pm, it will “continue selling in case of poor sales,” according to the banner.

The store will be “off on Sunday by default for relaxing.”

Dung revealed that he began hanging the banners a few months ago.

“I made up the content to amuse customers,” he said.

Lawyer Nguyen Van Hau, deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, said there is nothing wrong with the hilarious banners and the ward officials did not follow the proper procedure in handling civil penalties when they removed the signs without booking the case.

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