He is, but I'm not – unfortunately – but it felt like I was for thirty minutes or so last night. Mike, now in New York City, emailed me a week or two ago to say he'd seen the Vietnam episode in the new Anthony Bourdain TV series No Reservations. The TV chef wrote to me about his trip to Vietnam. A quick search on YouTube and there is the episode spliced into four segments – Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4. The guy is completely enamoured with the place, as he explains in the clip above. And I'll admit, noodlegirl and myself were pretty much silent for ten or fifteen minutes after watching the clips. Especially as the first place he eats in – Banh Xeo on Dinh Cong Trang – in the very first clip is a place we ate at roughly once a week for six years. And Bourdain's completely right – you need the noise, the fumes, the heat, the street chatter and the shouting for Vietnamese food.
It's interesting, but not too surprising, to hear how he has fallen so deeply for the place after relatively little time in the country. I've always had something of a love/hate relationship with Vietnam. Step away for a while and it's easy to forget the day long/night long powercuts, the traffic, the heat and humidity, the bloke down the street who used to get drunk and chase his wife with a meat cleaver, the pimps at the corner cafe, the rip off artists, the hassle and the tape. Far, far easier to focus on the good things that you miss i.e. the food. I can replicate power cuts and crap traffic in France without any difficulty. I cannot buy, nor make, a Banh xeo like the one you'll see in Part 1. But, be warned if you're viewing from outside Vietnam, you might find yourself shelling out for a ticket to Saigon immediately after watching it.