Vietnam marks the 30th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam (or American) war on Saturday the 30th April. The streets are already lined with the red and gold of the national flag and Saigon is awash with foreign journalists. I’m told there’ll be tanks driving down Le Duan Boulevard at 7am tomorrow morning and non-stop party action until May 2nd. I’ll be doing my best to avoid the high volume painful singing that normally accompanies these kind of events. I’ve started a Flickr photo pool: 30 years on. Join in and upload your snaps. Hope I can get up early and catch the tanks. Details of the four day long activities at Vietnam News and again here.
Archives for April 2005
Our Man in Hanoi is offering a special deal for all Noodlepie readers in a bid to reach the US$80,000 target needed to build the new home for KOTO Restaurant in Hanoi. KOTO helps streetkids straighten out their life. With a bit of training in the hotel & catering trade, they’re turfed out the other end, qualified and eminently recruitable. If you want to buy a brick, or have already bought a brick via noodlepie. Send an email to OMIH with "Noodlepie" in the subject line and if needed he’ll tell you how you can buy a brick. Then he’ll send you a pic with one or two of the kids your cash will help and your alloted brick space.
Print it out or forward to whoever the brick is for. Tidy. As OMIH says, "The bricks you see signed at the current KOTO restaurant turn into a real, engraved brick in the new place."
Come 6pm opposite the Saigon Tower on Pasteur Street and a foxes fart away from
Le Loi Street you’ll find two sandwich stalls. The traffic
lights make this stretch of road prime scoff real estate, but if you ask me it’s a precarious way to earn a living. Let’s face
it – a business plan that is heavily reliant on Saigonese folk stopping at a red
light is fundamentally flawed. These sellers have a slim window of opportunity in
which to tempt buyers. Their display of
cooked innards, entrails, intestines and parts is mouthwatering and tonight I just can’t resist snagging a takeaway.
This seller is further south on Pasteur than her blue pyjama clad rival a sneeze or two up the road. I’m not sure if they’re in competition, if they’re
family or if they have signed a sandwich trade pact. This merchant is half
Chinese, half Vietnamese. They’re both pig parts specialists, so don’t
expect to find a big girl’s banh my pate here. My knowledge of
veterinary science is limited, but this seller explains that absolutely
everything on her tray comes from the inside of a pig. What no bacon?
You choose what you want, although I’ll admit I don’t actually know what it is I’m choosing, and she slaps the lot inside a sauce
smeared banh my. She has a range of sauces, I choose the brown number
which I think is a hoisin based thing with nuoc cham leanings, but I’m
not sure. I skip the chilli.
She adds the regulation Vietnamese sarnie crinkle-cut pickled carrots
and radish garnish and a hacked up cucumber for my vitamin and iron
packed thriller. It’s 10,000VD. I’ll be honest and say it tastes about as good as it sounds. It’s not really my bag anyway. All a bit too ‘visual’. It wasn’t awful offal, but I’m not sure I’ll be back for a second
bite. However, if perchance I do get those pig’s innard pangs I know exactly
where to come. Very pleasant service.
I’m fast becoming more than a little impressed with the humble lotus flower. The purple stalk (bong sung) furnishes the vast Bun mam hedgerow and is filled with a crunchtastic zap. It’s seeds (sen) litter the ricemungus Com sen from Ngu Vien restaurant and can be procured as a snack snip outside Ben Thanh Market. The flowers are groovy. And it grows in mud. Now, I discover you can gobble the roots of this ‘leave nothing to waste’ plant.
Trai au (lotus roots) look prehistoric or Stag beetle-esque, doncha think? You crack open the tough outer skin with your teeth and inside you’ll find a white pulpy centre. It’s slightly sweet, a tad earthy and not unlike a traditional English Horse chestnut.
It seems there’s very little you cannot eat, use or look at contemplatively from a lotus flower. Trai au cost bugger all – a 2,000VD bag is more than enough for one root snack head. What a fantastic hardy perennial. Respect. This seller also flogs dried fish, strawberries and when they’re in season i.e. now – she also sells Vietnamese blackberries. Not sure what they’re called, don’t have a pic of them, but they’re a bit sour and I’m wondering whether or not they’d work for a blackberry pie or crumble. Hmmm??
New Yorker Matt Gross gives the run down on what to do and where to go in Saigon these days. The only place I haven’t tried on his eating list is Thuan Tuan,
"One sign of the city’s increasing sophistication is the low-key success of Thuan Tuan, (7) 67-71 Duong Hoang Sa, Dakao Ward, D. 1, (84-8) 910-1080, a multilevel restaurant facing a cleaned-up canal and serving spécialités méchouis – roast leg of lamb, French onion soup, Russian salad and couscous- to a 99 percent Vietnamese clientele."
Matt told me about this when we hooked up in Saigon. One of the original chefs at this place used to cook for the French Governor many years ago. North African dishes were a fave apparently and some of that hangs over here to this day. Worth a try. More in the NYTimes. Matt’s writing a novel based in Cambodia of the 1950’s. He also did a piece for the NYTimes this week from Kampot.
"Thuy Hang found herself in Viet Tri City for work, and like any true foodie, went searching for the region’s specialities – dishes prepared with lang, chien and anh vu fish from the Thao River." From the Vietnam News. Photos by Truong Vi.
This morning I was supposed to meet ex-CNN reporter, North Korea expert and Global Voices Online blogmeister Rebecca MacKinnon. She’s here, I think, to learn how the media in Vietnam is or is not developing. And to talk about blogging. She had to split town early and instead of eating with me, she had the delights of a Vietnam Airlines sandwich to contend with on her way back up to Hanoi. When figuring out where to take Rebecca, I wasn’t sure just how ‘street’ she would be prepared to go. So, erring on the safe side I chose to go ‘very very’ street. Let’s see what she missed.
I’ve almost ingested and blogged from every stall down at the local market now. However, there are two soups I’ve yet to ‘go live’ on and they both reside up this back passage which runs off one side of the main market. As is usual on local markets, there are no signs telling you what’s being sold or how much it’ll set you back.
I only know this is a Hu tieu stall because… well… I’m very wise. Also I had this same dish two days ago as a ‘home delivery’. The last time I blogged Hu tieu it was a bit of a District 10 disaster. That joint has since closed. However, I was so impressed with my 7,000VD home delivery and surprised that I’d never stopped by before that I decide to visit the stall in person this morning.
Hu tieu is a sweet noodle soup made from pork stock with a few small prawns, liver, kidney, pork slivers, he (a chive-alike) and beansprouts. It comes with the white noodles you can see above, but there is a Mi (yellow noodle) variant called Hu tieu mi nam vang. Side note, if you want really decent Mi, head to Mi Chu Tac on Ky Dong street.
I’m going white noodle this morning. The chef revives them in the side stock pot before shunting them bowlwards. However, being Rebecca-less and with the toad in tow, I decide to grab a mang di ve (takeaway) and bank this baby for lunchtime. So, in what is
quite possibly definitely a first for
this blog. What you are seeing has yet to enter my digestive tract.
However, like I said, I had a very successful meeting with this beast
two days previously and I feel confident I’m in for a carbon copy performance.
It’s blisteringly good broth, not in the sense that it’ll actually give you blisters of the puss spewing swollen variety, I don’t think it will, well I didn’t get any, but that’s not to say you couldn’t get them… I digress. If Rebecca had come I’m fairly certain she would have said something like, "This soup rocks. My buds’d love this shit." which in village English roughly translates as, "Oh that IS nice. I must tell everyone at the knitting circle to pop along for a post-knit nibble next week."
I don’t know much, but what I do know is I’ve got a blindin’ soup for lunch while Rebecca could well still be recovering from airline sarnie hell. Or did she go Business class?? Hmmm? Bloggers in Business class, that could never happen. Could it?
In Hanoi on May 4th? Looking for a good time? Got $80 in loose change jangling around?
Head to the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi to stuff your face on the star spangled nosh of "celebrity" NYC chef Bao Michael Huynh and his entourage. Proceeds from the evening will be cunningly diverted away from the pockets of this multi-national hotel chain and slipped quietly into the dusty bank vaults of the KOTO streetkid restaurant.
Scoff is Vietnamese with a yank twist. The ethical ‘doin’ it for the streetkids’ feel good angle should help slosh down your digestif. Check out the flyer and menu. Here are a few highlights I spotted.
- Truffle scented seared tuna spring roll with mango salsa and curry yoghurt sauce
- Lemongrass slow roasted pork loin with a fricassees of local mushrooms
- Soy glazed skate wing, ginger grilled tomatoes, taro root and spicy fried tofu skin
- Pandan panacotta with poached fruit and jasmine ice cream
Unfortunately it’s not clear from the flyer if that lot comes with chips.
BlogAds, the self explanatory advertising service, has created a new mini-network for advertisers – the Foodblog network. Adam at the SliceNY pizza blog, is helping Henry Copeland, the brains behind BlogAds, put the network together. Adam told me, "It’s a network that allows advertisers to order an advert on several foodblogs with a single click. A mini-network allows bloggers to band together and promote a bundle of blogs and attract bigger advertisers."
BlogAds also has a New York City specialist advertising network. However, the Foodblog network is the first non-location specific ad orgy. Interesting to note it’s not the politicos, the geeks or the uberbloggers who are the first to get their own genre specific ad network 🙂 For the thing to work advertisers have to know that just because someone’s blogging from Benbecula doesn’t mean their readers come from the same place. Take a look at noodlepie’s readership from lil’ ol’ Saigon town as of 9AM this morning. Hardly local…
Hmmm…?? perhaps my personal osmosis theory of marketing noodlepie in Vietnam could do with a few tweeks 🙂 For what it’s worth (not a lot) I do think there’s a wee bit of money to be made from blogs like noodlepie in the long term, not entirely sure how much or just when I’ll be putting the first down payment on that dream car as a result of ad dollars, but I do have faith in our inherent usefulness. Interesting read on blog advertising from WSJ.
Jim‘s not looking good, is he? Think I might have to help him on his way.
UPDATE: Jim departed from the physical world at 8:35AM Wednesday 20 April. A moment’s silence was observed.