Saigoneer

Hẻm Gems: The Comfort of Slurping Vegetarian Noodles on the Pavement

Tien, who’s been up since 4am, stops for a moment, lets out a small sigh of satisfaction and wipes the sweat from her brow with the well-used towel around her neck. It’s now 7:45am on another hot, humid morning in Saigon. Business has been brisk and she’s just served her final customer of the day with a generously filled bowl of bún măng chay (vegetarian vermicelli noodles with bamboo shoots). 

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Hẻm Gems: Nhậu and Forming Friendships the Laotian Way in Saigon

“Here we go, I’m gonna do it,” I proclaim to a table of eight friends. On the tip of my chopsticks is a single ant egg, the “pearl of the forest” as some call it. Instead of ending in a dramatic burst like Japanese salmon roe, the egg deflates on my tongue with a distinct rich taste. The flavor of the protein is neither as pronounced as fish roe nor as unfathomably fatty as a coconut worm, but it’s without a doubt something unique.

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Hẻm Gems: Finding Your Path at a Downtown Vegan Buffet

Peaceful music that chimes with joy, monks that greet you with smiles, and a delectable donation-based vegan buffet — it's a little heaven on earth. Well, heaven underneath a derelict building on Ton That Dam Street, to be more exact. This vegan Hẻm Gem is well-hidden (I lived in this building for three months before I first tried it!), but it’s easy to find your way back once you've discovered it.

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Hẻm Gems: A Bowl of Tripe Noodles That Takes You Straight to Hong Kong

In the public discourse surrounding beef and its culinary application, more often than not there’s barely any space for tripe.

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Hẻm Gems: Where Chay Alter Egos of Vietnam's Everyday Soups Reign

My first-ever vegetarian dish, long before I followed a plant-based diet, was hủ tiếu chay, and since then it has been my go-to order when trying a new restaurant. Besides, you definitely cannot go wrong with a Vietnamese soup dish.

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Hẻm Gems: One Family's Unexpected Outpost at the Foot of Langbiang

Lac Duong, a township 12 kilometers north of central Da Lat, isn't exactly a place where one would expect to find some international comfort.

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Hẻm Gems: Making Good Life Decisions With Midday Rice Wine and Hanoi Deep-Fried Food

The Subcommittee for Sustainable Fishing? The Office of Dipterocarp Record-Keeping? The Directorate of Synthetic Rubber Quality Control? Ride-Share Hygiene Board? It was difficult to assess who exactly our fellow lunch diners were. Were they filling their table with empty beer bottles to escape the monotony of work or fuel creative ideas for more efficiently managing the allocation of hand sanitizer for cable cars? Unclear. What was certain, however, was the Saigoneer team had scampered up Pasteur Street to enjoy a few glasses of rice wine accompanied by northern fare with the hopes that we’d return to the office not too buzzed to actively report on the nation’s latest developments in cracking down on illegal seahorse smuggling.

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Hẻm Gems: A Masterful Osaka-Style Okonomiyaki in Binh Thanh

An honest-to-god Japanese izakaya is a beautiful thing. Dark and smoky, often decked out in wood furnishings and yellowing travel posters, its flawless blend of bar and restaurant often involves nothing more than a simple countertop to indulge in ice-cold draft Sapporos and small-plate comfort dishes.

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Hẻm Gems: Mexican Simplicity and Zen-Like Tacos in D3

Tacos, and the many meat-and-tortilla variations we often categorize as ‘Mexican cuisine,’ are having a bit of a renaissance in Saigon.

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Hẻm Gems: Hear Us Out, Coconut Milk and Fish Sauce Are Actually Great Together

There are few problems and little mediocrity that can’t be improved with an unctuous ladle of coconut milk.

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Hẻm Gem: Spicy Phá Lấu Skewers Worth Suffering Traffic For

Saigon has a wonderful tropical climate with two seasons: dry and wet. As the cold weather approaches, chasing the blazing heat away, we all crave for some hot and steamy dishes to keep warm.

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