Hai Phong’s spicy secret: a three-generation legacy of breadsticks


If you find yourself in Hai Phong, Vietnam, and you’re a fan of spicy and flavorful snacks, there’s a hidden gem you shouldn’t miss. Ba Gia, a three-generation breadstick shop, is where you can indulge your taste buds in the mouthwatering delight of Hai Phong’s renowned breadsticks. With a family recipe passed down through the generations and a secret ingredient, these breadsticks will leave you longing for more.

1. The Flavors of Hai Phong Breadsticks

In the coastal city of Hai Phong, Vietnam, there exists a culinary treasure known as spicy breadsticks. These delectable treats, smaller in size compared to regular baguettes, boast a width equivalent to two fingers and a length similar to the span of a hand. What sets them apart is the delightful pate filling that harmonizes perfectly with the Hai Phong-style chili sauce called chi chuong.

2. The Legacy of Ba Gia: A Family-Owned Shop

At 57A Le Loi Street, Ngo Quyen District, Hai Phong City, you’ll find one of the most popular and long-standing establishments for breadsticks in the area—Ba Gia, which translates to “Old Lady” in English. Originally opened by Pham Thi Thuy’s grandmother, Toan, around two decades ago, this iconic shop has become a cherished institution for locals and visitors alike. Today, Thuy, the third-generation owner, continues to carry the legacy forward, taking over the business from her mother.

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3. The Unique Pate: A Secret Ingredient

The secret behind Ba Gia’s flavorful breadsticks lies in the pate, which Thuy prepares herself. While the pate consists of familiar ingredients like pork, pork liver, salt, pepper, and spices, it is the family cooking method that sets it apart. Visitors who have tried breadsticks from other shops often recognize the unique taste of Ba Gia’s pate. According to loyal customer Nguyen Thi Duyen, “The pate in other establishments can be too fatty, while some are dry and lack the smooth texture that I find here.”

4. Perfecting the Breadstick: Craftsmanship and Technique

Crafting the perfect breadstick requires precision and attention to detail. Each batch of cooked pate is shaped into portions weighing approximately 3-4 kilograms. Following strict hygiene practices, the employee wears gloves while using a knife to make a lengthwise cut in the bread, creating an opening to be filled with the pate. Thuy emphasizes the importance of getting the pate layer just right—not too thick to be overwhelming, nor too thin to compromise the flavors. With experience, the staff can estimate the ideal amount of pate by eye.

5. The Delightful Combination: Breadsticks and Chi Chuong

To experience the full spectrum of flavors, breadsticks are meant to be enjoyed with chi chuong, the chili sauce of Hai Phong. With its light consistency and vibrant red or orange-red color, chi chuong exudes a fragrant aroma, blending spicy notes with a hint of sourness. The proper way to relish the spicy stick-bread is by dipping it into a bowl of chi chuong. The breadstick’s crust offers a satisfying crispness, while the combination of tangy and mildly sour chili sauce with the smooth, salty, and savory pate creates a unique taste sensation.

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6. A Growing Fandom: Hai Phong’s Food Tours

Over the years, Hai Phong has witnessed a rise in food tourism, attracting visitors from near and far. As a result, Ba Gia has gained popularity beyond its local customer base. On weekends, the shop sees long queues forming as eager food enthusiasts wait to savor the renowned breadsticks. Breadsticks have become an ideal afternoon snack, with people enjoying them at the establishment and taking some home after a long day at work. The busiest time during weekdays typically occurs between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

7. Take Home the Goodness: Buying Packs of Breadsticks

For those who wish to enjoy Ba Gia’s breadsticks at home, the shop offers packs of 10 breadsticks for VND30,000 ($1.27). To complement the experience, additional packets of chi chuong are also provided, free of charge. The packages of breadsticks are neatly arranged on an aluminum table, ready for customers to pick up and take home.

8. A Nostalgic Bond: Mrs. Toan’s Handcrafted Breadsticks

Thai Thi Hau, a frequent diner at Ba Gia, recalls the nostalgic bond she has with the establishment. Having visited the shop since approximately 2015, when Toan, Thuy’s grandmother, was still actively involved, Hau cherishes the memories and flavors created by the skillful handcrafting of each breadstick. She shares, “It brings me a sense of comfort. Even though she’s no longer here, and I now reside far away, I occasionally return to the shop to relish that nostalgic flavor.”

9. Conclusion

Ba Gia’s breadsticks in Hai Phong, Vietnam, represent a three-generation legacy of craftsmanship and flavor. The combination of the unique pate, crafted with love and expertise, and the tangy chi chuong chili sauce creates an unforgettable taste experience. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, these breadsticks are a must-try when exploring the culinary delights of Hai Phong.

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10. FAQs

Q1: Are the breadsticks at Ba Gia made fresh daily? A1: Yes, Ba Gia operates its own bakery to ensure a steady supply of fresh breadsticks.

Q2: Can I enjoy the breadsticks without the chi chuong chili sauce? A2: While the breadsticks can still be enjoyed on their own, the combination with chi chuong enhances the flavors.

Q3: Can I purchase breadsticks as souvenirs or gifts? A3: Absolutely! Ba Gia offers packs of 10 breadsticks that make for a delightful souvenir or gift from Hai Phong.

Q4: Do they have vegetarian or vegan options for the breadsticks? A4: Currently, Ba Gia specializes in traditional meat-based breadsticks and does not offer specific vegetarian or vegan options.

Q5: Can I place an order in advance to avoid waiting in long queues? A5: Unfortunately, Ba Gia does not accept pre-orders. It is advisable to arrive early or be prepared to wait during peak hours.

Get ready to embark on a culinary adventure in Hai Phong, Vietnam, and satisfy your cravings with the mouthwatering breadsticks of Ba Gia. Indulge in the flavors that have been crafted with love and dedication for three generations. Experience the perfect harmony of the unique pate and the tangy chi chuong chili sauce. Don’t miss out on this spicy secret—your taste buds will thank you.