Paul Christiansen

in Food Culture

Into the Beguiling Backyard Rice Wine Distilleries of Long An

The highway eases into sand and gravel the way history descends into myth and legend when traveling towards Long An. A mere 27 kilometers outside of Saigon, the province feels a world away: the difference between a cocktail made with 18-year-old scotch, jackfruit-infused rum, seven types of bitters and brandy-soaked organic cherries and a plastic water bottle of homemade rượu nếp. The latter was the reason we were going there: for information, interviews and anecdotes to complete Saigoneer’s two-part investigation of the history of rice wine.

in Snack Attack

From a Blend of Cultures, Phá Lấu Became a Beloved Saigon Street Snack

When the word phá lấu is mentioned, two genres of dishes will appear in the mind of Vietnamese. One is a small bowl of orange broth that sings of coconut milk, another is slices of caramelized offal awash in a translucent shade of brown. Both these forms of preparations speak volumes about the growth of local street food through episodes of history.

in Snack Attack

Gỏi Đu Đủ Reflects the Mekong Region's Culinary and Cultural Wisdoms

As the cicadas begin to sing in the tamarind canopies along Pasteur Street after the first monsoon rain, vivid scenes from my formative years flash by in my mind. My cheeks became flushed and my eyes teary, but not from the harsh sun and wind, nor the frustration of losing multiple marble games; it was the sight, or rather, the scent of a papaya salad enveloped in Cô Ri pungent anchovy sauce.

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: In D5, a Family Durian Xôi Xiêm Recipe Inspired by Cambodia

At first glance, xôi xiêm sầu riêng — or sticky rice with egg custard and durian — may appear plain-looking, but apart from being a tasty sweet treat, this simple dish also holds stories of life during Vietnam’s post-war period.

in Snack Attack

A Pilgrimage to Sơn La, Vietnam's National Mận Capital, as a Devoted Fan

There’s a kind of sweet, sour, and slightly tannic fruit that never fails to make our mouths water every summer.

Paul Christiansen

in Food Culture

Banana Is a Paragon of Neutrality. I Propose Using It as a Metric to Rank All Fruits.

Line up all the world’s fruits, best to worst, taking into account every rateable aspect imaginable including taste, appearance, price, reliability and seasonality — the banana rests at the exact middle. So I've personally used it as the ideal threshold to rank every fruit I've ever eaten.

in Snack Attack

An Ode to Dried Fruit, Vietnam's Parent-Approved Way for Children to Sugar Load

I first knew dried fruit as a category of munchy snacks that had my parents’ approval.

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in Hanoi Ngõ Nooks

Ngõ Nooks: In the Same Hanoi Building, a Music Fan's Essentials — Vinyls and Cocktails

Sharing a building, Montauk and LP Club might initially appear to be just another cafe and another record store, but their goals are far loftier than selling drinks and vinyl.

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Trứng's Divine Flan Is What Happens When Saigon Dreams of Japanese Desserts

My slight obsession with Japanese-style flan started in Tokyo, but it’s taken on a new life here in Saigon.

in Food Culture

Hội An Reports 91 Food Poisoning Cases Linked to Famous Bánh Mì Phượng

Bánh Mì Phượng, Hội An’s most famous bánh mì eatery, recently made national headlines again, but for unfortunate reasons.

in Hanoi Ngõ Nooks

Ngõ Nooks: The Quiet Intimacy of Tree Bar, Where Strangers Become Fast Friends

A group of patrons gossip in thick, fast Japanese. They might all know each other or they might just speak to anyone at the bar as if they already know them. The wizened “master” joins in from his per...

in Hanoi Ngõ Nooks

Ngõ Nooks: Hanoi's Long Waits Jazz Club Dreams a Little Dream of Jazz

Long Waits, a self-proclaimed “modest jazz club,” is the culmination of many dreams that merged and shifted before finally giving Hanoi a modern yet quaint jazz experience.

in Hanoi Ngõ Nooks

Ngõ Nooks: Nourishment for the Soul at Canh Bún Nguyễn Siêu

Eating canh bún is akin to going for a walk on a clear day as sunset melts over the city; it costs almost nothing yet nourishes the soul.

in Vietnam Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Đà Lạt's Nomadic 'Cafe' Has No Menu, No Store, and One Table

During a recent trip to Đà Lạt, a friend invited me for coffee at 5:30am. The frosty climate of the Central Highlands mornings concerned me, but upon hearing the pitch about a whimsical cafe that oper...

in Ănthology

In Massachusetts' Cicada Cafe, a Marriage Between New England and Vietnamese Flavors

“I don’t like the term ‘fusion,’” Vinh Lê, the chef of Cicada Coffee Bar, tells me. “You need to adapt. You need to adapt to the new environment, new life, when you move from Vietnam to the US. And to...

in Eat & Drink

In Search of Quy Nhơn’s New and Traditional Delicacies

When asked what one should do when visiting, Quy Nhơn, one of Saigoneer’s favorite cities, the answer is simple: eat!

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Milo Dầm Is Decadence, Childhood and Street Culture in a Spoon

Growing up in Saigon before the surge of foreign dessert trends like milk tea, cheese tarts, and bingsu, the humble and affordable Milo powder found in almost every grocery store and street vendor was...

in Dishcovery

Chả Cá Lã Vọng, Now in Burger Form at D2's Latest Burger Joint

With its tiled walls, neon signs, and red-and-white color palette, The Smash Saigon appears to emulate the classic aesthetics of American diners. These motifs are so heavily associated with American c...

in Food Culture

Thanks for Your Order, Your Bún Will Arrive by Train in a Few Minutes

♫ And the bún mộc on the train goes round and round. Rolling down the track ♫

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Dì Út Tells Her Family's Indian-Vietnamese Story via Tasty Bò Kho

The arrival of the rainy season in Saigon has left me craving for hot meals to beat the cold, damp weather. I was on my way home from work in the aftermath of a bout of rain one day and found myself i...

Paul Christiansen

in Dishcovery

A Simple Americano Goes a Long Way at Quy Nhơn's Lone Coffee Roaster

Saigon is spoiled with cafes. In addition to the street stalls hawking cheap phin coffee, international chains and charming mom-and-pop shops, the last decade has seen a proliferation of third-wave ve...

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: At Bún Thang 50, Unexpected Hanoi Flavors in a Phú Nhuận Corner

When I was growing up in California, every couple of months, plastic containers of sliced fried egg, chicken, and chả lụa would line the kitchen counter. This medley of ingredients would usually mean ...

in Hanoi Ngõ Nooks

Ngõ Nooks: Tender Bar Is an Introvert's Haven, Except on Tuesdays

“Just read it and forget it. Then you can write anything you like about Tender Bar. Thank you.”

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: The Chuối Nếp Nướng That You Can't Find on Google Maps

Before the birth of TikTok and food review channels, many Saigoneers already grew up with their own set of staple food gems. As a youngster, I would visit the city's familiar, delicious food stalls wi...

in Eat & Drink

Landmark 81’s Oriental Pearl Prepares Dishes with its Head in the Clouds

What Saigon venue offers the best mountain view? This may seem like an absurdist question given the city’s notoriously flat landscape, but if you go up high enough, you are actually able to see them r...

Khôi Phạm

in Food Culture

Opinion: With New Vietnam Guide, Michelin Has Failed Asian Street Food Again

Nothing gets Saigon foodies up in arms faster than the ratio of 10 phở restaurants to zero bánh mì place, but this disproportionate phở favoritism is just one of many ways the Michelin Guide has fumbl...

Khôi Phạm

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: The 40-Year-Old Phở Gà in Kỳ Đồng, Now Michelin-Approved

If you’re ever lost in District 3, Kỳ Đồng’s famous phở gà place will be the oasis you need in those trying times.