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.

Back Eat & Drink

Khoi Pham

in Food Culture

Bánh Trung Thu: From Traditional Festive Fare to Asia’s Answer to Fruitcake

While Saigoneer’s previous installment in our Food History series touched on the evolution of bánh xèo, a light, airy crepe that screams summer with every bite, this week’s dish belongs to t...

Khoi Pham

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Lão Hương Thân, One of Saigon's Oldest Cơm Gà Xối Mỡ Restaurants

Is there anything quite as glorious as beautifully done fried chicken?

in Eat & Drink

McDonald's Faces Stagnant Growth in Vietnam As Local Fast Food Fad Cools Down

Back in 2014, during its first month in Vietnam, McDonald’s seemed set for success, as its first location in Saigon managed to attract some 400,000 curious patrons to sample its American dishes.

in Food Culture

Vietnamese Government to Sell All Stakes in Nation’s Biggest Brewers

The Vietnamese government announced last week that it will sell all of its shares in the country’s two biggest beer companies by the end of 2017, an unprecedented move.

in Food Culture

The Evolution of Bánh Xèo: A Street Food History

While phở, bánh mì and now, occasionally, bún chả hog the spotlight in Vietnamese cuisine, everyone in Vietnam is familiar, to some degree, with bánh xèo. On street corners and in tiny, mode...

in Food Culture

Vinacafe CEO Admits to Past Impure Coffee Products

In a surprisingly candid moment during a conference held last month, Nguyen Tan Ky, the incumbent CEO of Vinacafe, admitted to mixing soya beans into some of the company’s products in the past.

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Bún Sứa Serves Up a Jellyfish Medley Without the Sting

The menu at Bun Sua Co Hanh is geared towards diners with a hankering for seafood, and not just your regular fish and company. They serve something out of the ordinary at this slightly drab river...

in Food Culture

Famous Civet Coffee Often the Result of Animal Abuse: Study

A study in Indonesia has found that kopi luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee, is often produced using caged civets kept under inhumane conditions.

in Eat & Drink

Ice Cream Wars: Japan's Frozen Treat Makers Take on European Firms in Southeast Asia Market

Southeast Asia’s dessert market is getting some healthy competition as Japanese companies join the fray, hoping to take a piece of the pie from their European counterparts.

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Slurping Mì Ốc Hến in District 4 With Công 'the Enforcer'

Shuffling along in flip-flops and a pair of baggy shorts, Công the Enforcer arrives at our table.

in Food Culture

Chowing Down on Crickets: Vietnam’s First Mass-Market Edible Insect Business

Crickets look a lot different when they’re fried and doused in seasoning.

in Food Culture

High Rent, Competition Challenge Saigon's Coffee Chains

Despite being well-received in Vietnam’s metropolises, coffee chains still encounter business problems due to high rent costs and a crowded market.

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

[Video] Hẻm Gems: A Long-Anticipated Bowl of D10's Pre-Eminent Duck Noodles

Rarely have I gone into a meal with such anticipation.

in Food Culture

Vietnam Set to Become World's Top Pork Consumer

Before the next decade is through, Vietnam stands to become the world’s top consumer of pork.

in Food Culture

Foreign Brewers Hope to Tap Into Myanmar Beer Culture

After decades of being closed off to the world, Myanmar’s newfound economic boom is attracting a slew of foreign breweries hoping to cash in on the country’s nascent beer culture.

in Eat & Drink

[Photos] A Midnight Romp Through Saigon’s Wholesale Seafood Market

Around midnight, as most Saigoneers are heading off to bed, District 8’s Binh Dien is the place to be if you’re in search of seafood.

in Eat & Drink

Officials Attempt to Trademark Bún Bò Huế

Officials in Thua Thien-Hue province are causing quite a stir after attempting to enact a regulation that would place trademark restrictions on the province’s signature soup, bún bò Huế.

in Food Culture

Bia Hanoi Makers Suffer Post-Obama Marketing Fail

Three months after President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Vietnam last May, the country’s “Obama fever” seems to have subsided. However, for the folks behind Bia Hanoi, a product of the Hanoi...

in Food Culture

The Rise and Fall of the Great Japanese Unagi

Last weekend, as Vietnam was dealing with a bout of particularly bad weather – we’re looking at you, Typhoon Mirinae – Japan was celebrating a long-held tradition: Doyo no ushi no hi, or the Mids...

in Food Culture

[Video] Meet the Man Behind Singapore’s Michelin-Starred Hawker Stall

Last week, two Singaporean hawker stalls made history by becoming the first-ever Michelin-starred street food establishments.