Tucked down Doan Van Bo alley in the heart of District Four is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s oldest food stalls. A nominee in Urban Adventures’ first ever global street food awards in 2019, Corrine Redfern tracks down the family behind it.

Stand behind Vo Thi Ngoc Nhung’s food cart, Amen, and you’ll experience nothing short of chaos.

In one hand, the dark-haired chef is clutching her 13-month-old niece, bouncing the toddler up and down on her hip and wiping her teary eyes with the corner of a tissue. Her three dogs, Nau, Bo and Tony, are running in circles underfoot, as if on a mission to see who can trip their owner up first. Meanwhile, her 12-year-old nephew stands by her side, inhaling a bowl of fried rice and tugging on his auntie’s blue pyjama top, determined to get her attention.

Vo smiles at him patiently while stirring a steaming vat of fragrant pork broth with her one free hand. Just watching the scene feels stressful, but she doesn’t appear to break a sweat. “Our food is all about family,” she tells me, just as her sister-in-law Truong Thi Phuong materializes out of nowhere to take the (now-screaming) baby from her arms and gently shoo the puppies out onto the street. “This food stall is our home. Homes aren’t quiet or neat and tidy, but everyone is welcome.”