Gà Ác

Chinese Black Herbal Chicken Soup (Gà Ác Tiềm Thuốc Bắc)

Việtnamese food, like all cuisines, has been shaped through contact with other civilizations. China and France were the most prominent, followed by India and, more recently, current global cuisine. Foreign impact, on the other hand, was always tailored to the local ecological conditions, dietary requirements, cultural norms, and tastes.

For nearly a millennium, China governed Việt Nam and has always exercised political and cultural influence. As a result, it has a significant culinary heritage in Việt Nam. Việtnamese cooking and eating are influenced by Chinese cosmological conceptions of yin and yang, as well as the five elements (Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal).

In culinary terms, the Chinese introduced to Việt Nam several dishes, including vằn thắn/hoành thánh (wonton), xá xíu (char siu), há cảo (har gow), hủ tiếu (ka tieu), mì (wheat noodles), bò bía (popiah), bánh quẩy (youtiao), mooncake and bánh pía (Suzhou style mooncake), bánh tổ (nian gao), sủi dìn (tang yuan), bánh bò, bánh bao (baozi), cơm chiên Dương Châu (Yangzhou-fried rice), mì xào (chow mein) and gà ác (Silkie chicken). The Việtnamese adopted these dishes and added their own styles and flavours to the foods.

The last mentioned is “gà ác,” is known as Silkie or Chinese silk chicken. The Silkie is a chicken breed named for its very fluffy plumage that is believed to feel like silk and satin. It’s unclear when or where these unusual fowl first arose, but ancient China is the most well-documented source. Other Southeast Asian locations, such as India and Java, have been suggested as options. Marco Polo, who wrote of a “furry” chicken during his travels in Asia in the 13th century, has the earliest surviving Western written record of Silkies.

This chicken may be the most deeply pigmented creature on earth. Not only are the skin, beak, comb, tongue, and toes a striking, blue-ish black, but so are its bones and guts. Even the chicken’s meat looks like it has been marinated in squid ink. Despite the fact that the breeds have existed for centuries, the animals are still relatively rare.

These breeds’ dark colour has increased their value in the eyes of breeders and gourmands, who claim that the off-colour meat and bones have a unique and rich flavour.

In Việt Nam, the locals regard “gà ác” as gourmet food and cook it the way they learned from their Chinese ancestors. The most famous “gà ác” dish is Chinese black herbal chicken soup, also known as “gà ác tiềm thuốc bắc.” This dish combines tender, flavourful chicken with a sweet stewed soup of seven Chinese herbs including kỷ tử (lycium barbarum), đẳng sâm (Codonopsis pilosula, a kind of ginseng), đương quy (Angelica sinensis); táo tàu (jujube); ngải cứu (mugwort); lotus seed and thục địa (Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch). Some ingredients have a stronger presence than others. Without ginseng, the soup lacks its unique flavour. With mugwort, the soup tastes both sweet and bitter.

In Sài Gòn, where the largest Chinese community is located, it is the ideal space to try “gà ác tiềm thuốc bắc.” We recommend the eateries below for good food and its authenticity:

Cơm Gà Đông Nguyên

The restaurant, located in Chinatown in District 5, is well-known for its Chinese cuisine. This eatery has been serving customers for more than 70 years.

Quán ăn Dương Thành

This popular Chinese restaurant is in District 11 and sometimes be difficult to find. Despite not being in Chinatown, Quán ăn Dương Thành, is well-known by locals as well as “Việt Kiều”, and it was founded in the 1970s and has been in operation for over 40 years.

Thiem Huy Mi Gia

It specializes in Chinese specialities and is located in Chợ Lớn, District 5. The restaurant first opened its doors in 1981 and has since been known for its delicious “Mì vịt tiềm” and “Vịt quay” but “Gà ác tiềm thuốc bắc” is also excellent.

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Singapore

Same day delivery via Deliveroo.

Same day islandwide delivery.

Bulk Order (min $250) via Catersmith. Order must be placed at least 3 days in advance.