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Khôi Phạm

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Hẻm Gems: In Saigon's Greenest Cafe, a Rabbit, Cotton and Succulents Galore

On a windy autumn day of 2019, I did what any existentially precarious millennial would eventually do some time in their 20s: I bought a houseplant.

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Hẻm Gems: Pho Chay Nhu and 35 Years of Serving Tasty Vegetarian Meals

A bowl full of noodles is one of the things that make me feel lucky to be alive, and alive in Saigon in particular.

Michael Tatarski

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: A Japanese Bánh Mì to Win Over Fusion Food Skeptics

When it comes to discussions of cuisine, I'd argue that "authentic" is the most overused word in writing and marketing, followed closely by "fusion."

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Hẻm Gems: At D7's Tía Tô, Home-Cooked Korean Comfort Food for the World-Weary

Growing up in South Korea's extremely competitive and high-stress education system, combined with strict Asian parenting, my relationship with my parents has never been easy.

Michael Tatarski

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Hẻm Gems: The Porcine Pleasure of a D2 Cơm Tấm Outpost

What comes to mind when you hear the words 'District 2'?

Thi Nguyen

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Hẻm Gem: Bún Cá Sứa With a Stock That Tastes Like the Ocean

A friend once told me that Saigon is a place that makes you feel like you can travel anywhere.

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Year in Review: Saigoneer's Picks for Best Hẻm Gems of 2019

In 2019, Saigoneer reviewed a total of 38 Hẻm Gems, including 10 bars or cafes, 15 Vietnamese eateries and 13 places serving delicious non-Vietnamese cuisines.

Thi Nguyen

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Hẻm Gems: A Secret Back-Alley Bún Ngan, Hidden in Plain Sight

Several months ago, the Saigoneer team went to 89 Nguyen Du for a Hẻm Gem on Ngo 89’s Hanoian snacks. Little did I know, we’d be going to the same location for an entirely different eatery later on.

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Hẻm Gems: Home-Cooked Taiwanese Comfort Food for a Cold Saigon Day

District 5, Saigon’s Chinatown, is full of delicious eateries serving Cantonese food. For something new, try Va Thanh, an unassuming restaurant with top-notch Taiwanese home-style cooking.

Khoi Pham

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Hẻm Gems: Saigon Retro Cafe Has Just the Right Amount of Sentimentality

It’s a teensy bit weird to say that my new favorite hangout is above a VinMart.

Thi Nguyen

in Saigon Hẻm Gems

Hẻm Gems: Krua Thai's Raw Seafood Salad Is Not for the Faint-Hearted

The first role I ever took in my home kitchen was to prepare sweet fish sauce with chili and garlic to pour over rice and noodles. As simple as this may sound, I still can’t master the art after years...

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Hẻm Gems: Bánh Đập Dập, an Indelible Reminder of Vietnam's Austere Eras

Although stories, photographs and artifacts may allow a child to visualize their parents’ childhood, these couriers of memory distinctively belong to the former generation and remain locked in the pas...

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Hẻm Gems: The 'Stink' of Bún Mắm Nêm Is My Childhood Aroma

Every time I depart from Vietnam to study abroad or travel, on the way to Tan Son Nhat International Airport I stop by the Bau Cat area in Tan Binh to stuff myself with at least two bowls of bún mắm n...

Khoi Pham

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Hẻm Gems: At D5's Sủi Cảo Đại Nương, a Song of Chives and Fire

One night after my meal at Sui Cao Dai Nuong, I find myself in a mystifying dream about chives.

Khoi Pham

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Hẻm Gems: The Crispy Duck Noodles for When You're Feeling Fancy

Right in the middle of frenetic hospital crowds, imposing pharmacies and peak-hour traffic, Hue Ky Mi Gia stands out, its indoor dining area seemingly unaffected by the commotion that’s going on just ...

Khoi Pham

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Hẻm Gems: Khoai Bistro Serves up a Mother Lode of Ribs and Breakfast Skillet

Praise be to those who bring the hearty wholesomeness of the breakfast skillet to every hour of the day.

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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

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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 ...

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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.