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A Taste of Australia Brings Authentic Cuisine to Saigon

When people think of Australian cuisine, visions of meats sizzling on open flames accompanied by distinctive dishes including Vegemite, beetroot burgers and Anzac biscuits may come to mind.

Whether it's the hundreds of free grills families take advantage of in Sydney’s breezy Bronte Park every weekend or homes with handmade fire pits, barbeques have become synonymous with eating down under.

Historian and author Richard Wright explains that it’s romantic to assume they originate with nineteenth century stock workers circling around campsites in connection with the traditions of the area’s native inhabitants, but actually the term likely originated in America, where it referred to the wooden frames that locals used to cook meat over a fire. After Western colonists arrived in Australia the meals often accompanied large political events and communal rallies. But by the mid-20th century the practice of grilled feasts transitioned from public to private affairs.

Sadly the Australian barbeque never made it to Vietnam. So whether one is a nostalgic expat or a Saigon native piqued by curiosity, simply thinking about a full Australian meal makes one’s mouth water. Thankfully the Sheraton has them covered with the one-night-only Taste of Australian buffet on Friday, January 26th at their Saigon Café.

The event will allow guests to enjoy a wide range of delicacies including Australian sweet seafood soup, fish and chips with tartar sauce, Australian-style smashed potatoes, seafood pizza, Australian cakes and, of course, heaping mounds of succulent beef, pork, lamb and seafood - in addition to the restaurants standard pan-Asian, Vietnamese, Western, Japanese and Indian offerings.

Australia is home to numerous unique foods, but none is perhaps as famous as Vegemite. The dark spread, described as simultaneously sweet, bitter and sour, is made from the yeast extract leftover from brewers. Its history is no less strange - the name was selected at random out of a hat; it was once officially endorsed by the British Medical Association; and, it was recently used to conduct electricity as part of an ongoing project to develop edible, biodegradable biosensors. But while it’s a staple in many Australian homes, it can be difficult to find in Saigon. The Sheraton, however, will be serving hot Vegemite chicken amongst many other unique dishes that Aussies have come to love. 

Another eccentricity of the Australian table is the prevalence of beets: the vitamin-laden vegetables are especially popular when served atop familiar beef hamburgers. While those outside of Australia might be unfamiliar with the combination, they are ubiquitous throughout Australia. Diners at the Saigon Café can enjoy this odd (or delicious - depending on one’s perspective) dish at the Australian buffet, along with pickled beetroot with orange and mint antipasto.

In addition to emu casserole and meat pies, another item one is unlikely to find anywhere in Saigon outside of the Sheraton on January 26th is the Chiko Roll. Invented in the 1950s, these hand-held snacks were originally inspired by Chinese egg rolls. To make one, chefs fill a simple egg pastry with a variety of savory ingredients including cabbage, barley, celery, onions and minced meat before deep-frying the concoction until it’s golden brown. Finally, there is no better way to end dinner than with an Anzac biscuit - the sweet oat, honey, flour and coconut cookies that were invented to send to WWI soldiers as loving reminders of home.

While the evening’s fare will be authentic, the setting won’t be. So instead of swatting flies and risking a savage sunburn, guests will be seated in the comfortable Saigon Café. Large windows fill the room with natural light and allow for spectacular views of Dong Khoi and Dong Du streets. Meanwhile, waiters continually circle the tables and chef-tended buffet stations to fill glasses and ensure all guest needs are met.

As flights to Sydney don’t come cheap, thankfully no one will have to justify the eight-hour journey to sample difficult-to-find, authentic dishes made with the highest-quality ingredients, because the Taste of Australia buffet conveniently brings them to downtown District 1. It will be the perfect opportunity for Australian natives to enjoy a bit of home, and for locals to explore a new and exciting cuisine.


Saigon Cafe

08 3827 2828

Level 1, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers - 88 Đồng Khởi, Q.1