Bo Tung Xeo – Lucky Beef Parts

Lucky Beef Parts In 1999 a restaurant opened at 31 Ly Tu Trong in District 1. It’s proper name was Quan Luong Son. But expats and tourists alike called it Bo Tung Xeo, after its signature dish. It’s a bit like Korean barbeque. Although instead of a gas fire built into the table, Bo Tung Xeo features a charcoal brazier brought to the table, upon which you grill your own... Read More

Dog Meat Days in Saigon

Okay. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that it would sooner or later come to this. To that seemingly dark side of Vietnamese gastronomy, wherein people commit acts so shocking that to many a Western wayfarer they seem to constitute a sin without a name.  Yes, it’s time to talk about thit cho (dog meat). Also known as cay to or as thit cay nam... Read More

A Room with a View

Saigon has always been a place of rooftop bars, and restaurants in high places. Of course “high” is a relative term. From 1959 to the early 1990s the old wing of the Caravelle Hotel was the tallest building in town, at just ten stories high! In the 1960s its rooftop bar was famous among foreign journalists who joked that at that height they could cover the entire American war... Read More

Banh Mi Saigon – A Historic Saigon Sandwich

The banh mi Saigon escaped from Hanoi. I don’t remember what bar I was in, but an Aussie elbow-bender once observed to me that, “Only the Americans know how to make a good sandwich.” Argue with him if you will but, as a student in Spain, a journalist in Oz and a bum in many ports of call I found this largely to be true. Indeed, most of the world makes a pretty simple sanny.... Read More

The Noodle Knocker

Knocking for Noodles I first came to Ho Chi Minh City 20 years ago. You can imagine that it was a very different place at that time. There were no functioning traffic lights. The most common vehicle was the bicycle. There were no metered taxis, and few buses. Imagine how quiet the streets and how clean the air! The tallest building in town was the old wing of the venerable Caravelle... Read More

Street Eats

Here in Saigon it’s all happening in the street. Every kind of human intercourse except the sexual (invitations thereto notwithstanding) goes on in the streets. You can get your hair cut in the street. You can have your eyes examined and glasses prescribed, then stroll down the block and take tea with friends, all on the street. Heel of your shoe falling off? Stop at the corner... Read More

The Book of Proverbs

I have always held that the culinary art can reveal a culture just as surely as any other art or social activity. It’s just as good a window into a people’s soul as its literature, poetry, film, painting or sculpture. And you don’t have to speak the language. A willing palate and an adventurous appetite are all you need to delve into a foreign society, and even... Read More