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Hẻm Gems: Cocktails and Conversation at Saigon’s Classiest Sidewalk Spot

In the daytime, you wouldn’t give the storefront at 16 Pham Ngoc Thach a second look. Apart from its tropical-themed wallpaper, the District 3 café is pretty run-of-the-mill, cluttered with low wooden tables and chairs, its walls advertising the WiFi password every few feet.

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[Video] Ain't No Sunshine When Sai'Gon: The Cake Inspired by Saigon's Rainy Days

The Saigon skyline has been the muse for many an illustration project, and now you can also enjoy the towering Bitexco Financial Tower, but in fondant form.

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From the Bottom of the Barrel to the Top of the Heap: The Rise of Cơm Tấm

Swing by chị Hien’s street cart for dinner on any given day and you’ll find a cross-section of Saigon that covers all demographics: middle-class residents from the apartment blocks up the street, well-heeled expats from nearby City Garden, neighborhood xe ôm drivers, hungry lotto ticket vendors and everyone in between. Rich, poor, young, old, local, foreign, we all agree on one thing: these people make a mean cơm tấm.

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Hẻm Gems: In Hẻm 284, O Thu Brings a Touch of Hue to Saigon With Cơm Hến

As the sun went down and Saigon’s throngs of workers ventured out of their office nests to fill local streets, I was perched on a red plastic stool in a hẻm in District 3 weeping and snorting like an unhinged moron.

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Vietnam Slurped Down Nearly 5bn Packets of Instant Noodles in 2016: Report

Is Vietnam's addiction to instant noodles on the way out?

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Adventures in Eating: Sủi Dìn’s Journey From Imperial China to the Streets of Hai Phong

The first time I stumbled upon cô Ut’s nightly sidewalk ritual, the performance was already well under way. Perched on the low steps of what serves as a VietinBank branch by day, the young woman sat rooted to a plastic stool behind her metal display case, but her arms stretched in all directions, cleaning countertops, replenishing ingredients and ladling spoonfuls of slate grey chè vừng into plastic cups and porcelain bowls.

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Hẻm Gems: Chinese-Malaysian Noodles and Saigon's New Generation of Street Food

When it comes to Saigon’s culinary landscape, the southern hub is pretty progressive. In addition to an array of Vietnamese dishes from every corner of the country, the city has also acquired a cosmopolitan palate that includes scores of Japanese izakaya, Korean barbecue spots, Taiwanese milk tea shops, Italian pizza places and burger joints of various international origins. The reason this works, an Indian restaurateur once told me, is because Saigoneers are open-minded: whether they know the cuisine or not, everyone is willing to give it a try.

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A Food Folk Tale: How a Poor Farmer Traded Starfruit for Gold

In Vietnam, fruits, especially those of the oddly shaped variety, come with a story. From pineapple to watermelon, there’s not a snack in this country that doesn’t come with a lesson attached. The juicy, yellow-green starfruit is no different.

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Hẻm Gems: The Ingenuity of 24-Way Grilled Oysters in D4

Innovation is important. With a healthy imagination and a bit of gusto, humans have the ability to create everything from DIY submarines to all-terrain wheelchairs to helmets specifically for married Thai women. But while we’re all quick to celebrate such ingenuity, it’s easy to forget the hours of trial and error that went into getting it just right.

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A Food Folk Tale: The Savage Clapback That Turned a Girl Into a Pineapple

Growing up in Vietnam, it seems that everything – from common household objects to fruits – has an origin story. Some of these local folk tales have a decidedly romantic angle, but others – like the legend of the pineapple – serve as a cautionary tale for children who misbehave.

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Hẻm Gems: The Green Delight of Phu Yen's Bánh Canh Hẹ

In the age of the internet, we go back and forth about everything, including whether or not the most important meal of the day is, in fact, important. While members of the medical profession continue to debate the merits of breakfast, however, Saigon is full of early-morning delights, from mouthwatering cơm tấm to bowls of phở and quick-and-easy bánh mì. For a departure from your average morning meal, however, look to a more elusive regional dish: Phu Yen’s bánh canh hẹ.

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