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Hẻm Gems: A Japanese-American Time-Warp on Binh Thanh’s Backstreets

Imagine a world where the 1950s never ended. Where Daddy-O’s race muscle cars all day and Peggy Sue’s dance the night away. Where it’s all one big small town of neon-lit diners and all-night gas stati...

Khoi Pham

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: The Unbearable Lightness of Eating Bò Lá Lốt Alone

There are certain activities that are best not undertaken alone: karaoke, barbeque, watching football and feasting on ốc. The consensus, however, is still out on bò nướng lá lốt mỡ chài, so I decided ...

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Tasty Char Kway Teow and Sisig Where You Least Expect It

"They have bak kut teh. And what do you call that...Singaporean Hokkien fried noodles? The Korean businessmen go there for gatherings too," a friend told me during a casual chat at a craft beer joint ...

Michael Tatarski

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Hẻm Gems: A Delicious Journey on the Caribbean Clipper at Jamaica Jamaica

By this stage of my life in Saigon, I'm not particularly surprised when an outpost of some unexpected cuisine appears in the unlikeliest of places.

Khoi Pham

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Hẻm Gems: At Sara Ethiopian, a Chicken Stew for the Soul

Before the existence of Sara Ethiopian Restaurant in Saigon, my knowledge about the African country could fit squarely in a child’s palm: its capital, Addis Ababa; the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash ...

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Hẻm Gems: An Ancient Chinese Meat Sandwich, 3,000km Away From Home

In the landlocked Chinese city of Xian, the legendary Terracotta Army of more than 8,000 soldiers with distinct facial features, weapons, chariots and horses finds their eternal home. This article, ho...

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Hiding From Influencers in an Old-School Saigon Cafe

"Saigon in its golden age was a time to be remembered and passed down to younger generations. The vintage aesthetic trend in Vietnam has been around for a couple of years now and for me, it is a cause...

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: The Greasy Extravaganza of Deep-Fried Bột Chiên and Egg

Bột chiên is a familiar comfort food for many Vietnamese people.

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Hẻm Gems: It's a Pagoda, It's a Restaurant, It's Superb Vegetarian Food

The revered 92-year-old Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh sums up his teachings on food and the first meal of the day like this: “I asked some children, 'What is the purpose of eating breakfast...

Khoi Pham

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: For the Love of Hanoian Snacks and Streetside Iced Tea

During the day, the dining area at 89 Nguyen Du houses a bún bò restaurant, but once the afternoon comes to an end and the sun starts to set, the area turns into a boisterous nhậu spot filled with nor...

Michael Tatarski

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: A Direct Flight to Taiwan Through Your Taste Buds

One of the great benefits Vietnam's budget airline boom is the ease with which Saigoneers can now travel directly to wonderful destinations like Japan and South Korea without breaking the bank.

Paul Christiansen

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Hẻm Gems: On the Nguyen Du Sidewalk, Connoisseur Coffee at Pavement Prices

Contemporary coffee culture in Saigon is largely one of extremes. On one end, enthusiasts at trendy shops source, grow, roast and meticulously prepare some of the finest beans in the wo...

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

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, hum...

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Hẻm Gems: In Saigon's First Shots Bar, Usain Bolt and Princess Peach in Test Tubes

Pham Ngu Lao Street, along with its sister street Bui Vien, has been known for almost two decades to foreigners as the perfect place to drink, bunk-in and conveniently repeat. In other words, a booze-...

Khoi Pham

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

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...

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Hẻm Gems: Coconut Coffee and Banana Bread in a Quiet Corner of Thao Dien

Thao Dien is known to some as a quiet neighborhood, despite its ongoing development projects. Upscale restaurants and fancy cafes are plentiful, serving a range of gourmet food and drinks. Yet, in bet...

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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 ...

Khoi Pham

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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: When a Saigon Cafe Gets Its Hanoi Quirks Just Right

There are three H’s that best encompass Vietnam: Hanoi, the capital; Hue, the ancient capital; and Ho Chi Minh City, the economic center. While I am still struck by Hue’s vibrant culture, my memories ...

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Hẻm Gems: Authentic French Pastries in an Unexpected Part of Town

Perhaps a story not too unfamiliar to many: Tom Nguyen grew up in France as a French-Vietnamese. Any similarity in background with other Viet Kieu, however, ends rather quickly. About two years ago, N...