Thứ Năm, 29 tháng 3, 2018

Al Arrabya News Channel came to Vietnam to shoot a travel show

In March 2018, a crew from Al Arrabya News Channel came to Vietnam to film a travel show. The show features almost all attractiosn in Hanoi and so - called "Ha Long bay on land" Trang An Landscape Complex which is situated 2 hours away from Hanoi by car.

Fixer in Vietnam Andy Nugyen and Laith Bazari
Andy Nguyen with Laith Bazari under historical bridge of Long Bien
In Hanoi, the touristy locations of Hanoi Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem lake area, historical Long Bien bridge, Bat Trang Pottery Village, West Lake, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and renowned temple of Bach Ma, pagoda of Tran Quoc have been introduced to the whole world on Al Arrabya News Channel.

Trang An Landscape Complex in the eyes of Al Arrabya News Channel
DoP Francois and Host Laith Bazari at Trang An Landscape Complex
Fixer in Vietnam was proud to be deeply involved in the shoot right from the preparation phase. All the shooting locations, permits and detailed schedule and contacts have been recommended carefully by a team of honest fixers.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was filmed by Al Arrabya News Channel
Laith Bazari at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex

During 7 days in Vietnam, the crew followed a tight shooting schedule. However, it was smooth shoot in perfect weather of March.
19th March
8.00 - 12.00
13.0    – 18.00
(1) Local Food at hotel Cosiana (92 Le Duan street)
(2) Local food at hotel Cosiana (92 Le Duan street)
20st March
6.30 - 14.00
15.00 - 18.00

(3) Trang An Landscape Complex (1.30 hours from Hanoi by car)
Boat tour of 2 -> 3 hours along the river and caves

(4) Hoan Kiem Lake area
Ngoc Son Temple in the middle of the lake

21st March
8.00 - 12.30
13.30 - 18.00

(5) Bat Trang Pottery Village
(1 hour from Hanoi center by car)

(6) Long Bien bridge
and Floating houses under the bridge

22nd March
5.45 - 12.00
14.30- 18.00

(7) Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex:
Daily flag raising ceremony at 6.30 am (optional)
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (outsite), Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House,
Ho Chi Minh Fishing Pond, One-Pillar Pogoda
(8) West Lake
at down

23rd  March
8.00 - 12.30
13.30 - 15.30
 15.45 - 17.30

(9A) Old Quarter Area:
Thanh Ha Open market at O Quan Chuong ancient city gate
Ly Quoc Su street incl.Great Cathedral
Hang Bac street (selling handicraft silver jewelry - No 83)
Narrow streets/alleys e.g Yen Thai alley

(9B) Old Quarter Area:
Hang Quat street (selling worshipping items or those used in ritual ceremonies, wooden seal carving - No 6)
Bach Ma temple at Hang Buom street
(10) Water Puppet at Thang Long or Bong Sen Water Puppet Theater
Show time: 16.10 - 17.10

Laith Bazari was really impressed by the daily life of people who stay in the Old Quarter area, Hanoi.
Along the street, you can have a quick and simple but delicious lunch or you can buy a meaningful souvenir like wooden seal carved with your names.

You can carve your names on wooded seal in Hang Quat street
Laith Bazari at a shop where you can carve your names on wooden seal
And here is the first draft of trailer for Vietnam episode which will be broadcasted on Al Arrabya News Channel in the second quarter of 2018.


Chủ Nhật, 10 tháng 7, 2016

Impact of French colonialism on Vietnam culture, education and architecture

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Khanh - Rector of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities gave an interview to Dr.Farish Noor  - historian and political analyst of Singapore's NTU on the impact  of French colonial on the development of Vietnam. The interview was a part of the Channel News Asia's documentary "Inventing SE.Asia with Dr.Farish Noor" which was assisted to shoot in Vietnam and Cambodia by Fixer in Vietnam company. This is a group of experienced and reliable local film fixer in Vietnam

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Khanh - Rector of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Q. What was reaction of Nguyen Dynasty against the French presence in Vietnam?

AWhen the French came into Vietnam, the attitude of the Nguyen Dynasty kings was very different. If you look at history, since the Nguyen Dynasty was established in 1802, King Gia Long - the first king of the Nguyen Dynasty, expressed a relatively compromise attitude with the French, because the French had aided to put Gia Long to the throne. But from the reign of King Minh Mang and especially from King Tu Duc, when the French used gun power to invade Vietnam, the attitude of the Nguyen gradually changed. Some courtiers, including King Tu Duc stayed moderate at first. Some people want to fight against the French to protect the interests of the Nguyen and also the independency. However,  the trend of the Kings Nguyen to France gradually became compromised and more collaborative with the French. This trend became clear at the end of the colonial period, especially when King Khai Dinh then Bao Dai came to throne.

Q. How did Vietnamese people react towards French impact at that time in terms of culture, education...?

A. It can be said that when the French came in Vietnam, they brought along the investment as well as the culture of the West, Vietnamese people's reaction at first was not welcome, it could be said they were against it. There are several reasons: The first is the French came to Vietnam as an aggressor. The second is the French culture and civilization brought into Vietnam is different from Vietnam’s tradition. Culture, civilization Vietnam traditionally based on the ideology and Confucianism. So at first reaction of most of Vietnamese people was not accepting and against the influence of culture of the French and the West. We can say the cultural changes of Vietnam in the colonial period was very complicated, at first stage is the opposition of the Vietnamese to culture of the French and the West. But in the second stage it was more compromised and the third stage is receptive. Vietnamese people is very smart, they see the positive factors that they can learn from then they accept it, made it the property of the nation and its culture. During the colonial period, with a combination of Vietnamese culture, French culture and Western culture, it had formed the elements of a new culture. In the field of literature, arts, painting we can say it brought about a new color under the influence of French culture and Western culture.

Q. What do think about the acculturation in the French colonial?

A. Speaking of nationalism, or ideological ties between Vietnam’s traditional culture with France’s and the West’s, I see the colonial period as a process of friction or researchers calls it the process of acculturation. The foreign cultural elements were brought into Vietnam by the French has gradually been localized. Vietnamese people took the most appropriate and elite things and turned into their own cultural values. ​​That was one reason why the people of Vietnam underwent 1,000 years of Chinese rules and nearly 100 years under French rule still retain their ethnic identity. Because the people of Vietnam know to promote their strength, maintain the identity element of their nation and is receptive of new and positive elements to turn into their own cultures and grow to new heights. It is the acculturation of cultural characteristics of Vietnam in the colonial period.

Q. Can you talk more about the positive impact as well as negative impact of French colonial on Vietnam society?

A. I want to say more about the influence and impact of the capitalization of the French colonialists in Vietnam in the colonial period. Until recently, many researchers in history, sociology, politics primarily evaluate the negative impact of the colonization process, but I think it's incomplete and objective. It must be admitted that the domination of nearly 100 years of France in Vietnam and some other countries on the Indochinese peninsula had led to very serious consequences because France brought the domination with their police, army , prisons to suppress the revolt, the struggle of the people of Vietnam to defend national independence. Then various traditional cultural values ​​were demolished. But on the other hand during the rule of French colonial in Vietnam, they unconsciously brought in economic factors, new culture from France and the West to Vietnam and contributed to the positive changes in the society of Vietnam in the fields of culture, economy, education and many other aspects as well. Talking about the economy, the French had invested in Vietnam tens of billions of francs during the colonial period, in the fields of industry, finance, trade and banking. And therefore contributing to the transformation of the Vietnam economy from feudal economy to colonial economy with nature of capitalism and led to strong movement to capitalism. Transportation systems, modern bridges and roads were also built during this period. Besides economy, the culture field, just to mention architecture alone, the system of architecture, such as administrative buildings, from Indochina Governor Palace to Tonkin Governor Palace, in the field of education, such as the building of the University of Indochina, the Louis Finot museum of the Bac Co Orient Institute (E’cole Francaise d’Extrême – Orient), in the field of arts there are unique structure- it is the Hanoi Opera House, Saigon Opera House and Hai Phong Opera House. So in Vietnam, France built 3 French style theatres, in which the Opera House in Hanoi is one of the most typical culture of France in Southeast Asia during the colonial period. In the field of education, the French developed the France - Vietnam education system, in the schools, students not only learn the knowledge of the political, social, humanistic fields that are basic subjects of old school system, but also learning Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, as the result the students or the younger generation in Vietnam had included natural sciences and social sciences and humanities in their study. From the early 20th century, the French focused on the development of higher education system, the French developed the largest university and the only one in Vietnam and in the Indochina peninsula - the Indochinese University which was established in 1906. On that ground, since the '20s and ‘30s to the end of the colonial period, many universities and colleges had been established in Vietnam, helping to train new intellectual elite, Western-style, whose ideology would be more "rationality" than  "emotionality" of traditional Vietnamese way of thinking. It can be said, in terms of culture and education in colonial times it had changed to the new way in the direction of modern, the Indochinese University is the first university following the modern direction in Vietnam and Indochina peninsula. These were imnportant platform for the Government of Democratic Republic of Vietnam following the August Revolution in 1945 to inherit the positive factors from economics to culture, education and continuing developing to obtain greater achievements in the future.

Thứ Ba, 5 tháng 7, 2016

"Inventing SE.Asia with Dr.Farish Noor" started in Vietnam...

The production of the Channel News Asia's documentary "Inventing SE.Asia with Dr.Farish" started in Vietnam in June 2016. Producer Christopher John Hale is responsible for the production from A to Z. And the host of the show is Dr.Farish Noor who is political scientist, historian and professor of Singapore's NTU. Dr.Farish Noor is a famous and popular face on Channel News Asia channel, he was the host of the series "Inside Indonesia with Dr.Farish Noor".

With Mr.Christopher John Hale (middle) and Dr.Farish Noor in front of Hanoi Great Cathedral
The documentary describes the impact of French colonial period in terms of culture, education, architecture, politics... on SE.Asia nations incl. Vietnam and Cambodia.

The shooting locations are Hanoi, Hue in Vietnam and Phnompenh (Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, Killing Fields, Mekong river, Tonle Sap lake and Angkor site).

It was very honoured that was chosen to provide production assistance and fixer service in Vietnam and Cambodia for production team of Channel News Asia, International Production Unit.

In Hanoi, Vietnam, the production team has shot at almost all French style architecture and buildings e.g. University of Chemistry, Hanoi Opera House, Hanoi Great Cathedral, Vietnam National Museum of History, Hanoi Fine Arts...

In the French colonial period, French built three Opera Houses in Vietnam, one in Hanoi, one in Sai Gon and one in Hai Phong. Hanoi building is the biggest and the most spectacular.

Shooting in front of Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Great Cathedral was built in 1886 and it was designed to resemble Notre Dame de Paris. The building was one of the first French style architectures in Indochina...

Doing PTC at Hanoi Great Cathedral
It was clear that the dominance of French rulers in Indochina caused many serious consequences. French colonialists suppressed the uprisings of Vietnamese people to defend national independence.

However, on the other hand, French colonialists brought into Vietnam society many positive factors in terms of economics, culture, education and architecture.

In the field of economics, French colonialists invested capital to develop banking system, industry, trade...and step buy step transform the old and feudal economics to colonial economics with the initial characteristics of capitalism.

In the field of education, French rule built the largest university in Indochina peninsula in Vietnam. It was Indochina University. The students at that time not only studied social sciences but also studied Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology...

Besides mentioned buildings, the crew also shot at Tonkin governor palace and Indochina governor palace and Hanoi fine arts museum...

With the assistance offered by reliable local film fixer in Vietnam, the production went on smoothly in Hanoi. Local film and TV fixer in Vietnam has provided the production crew all needed information from application for filming permit in Vietnam, drone permit in Vietnam, Vietnam visas to arrange specific permit to shoot at every locations.

After three days of production in Hanoi, the crew moved to Hue relics which was around 700km away from Hanoi to discover the pre - French  period in Vietnam. 

The crew would like to discover the civilization which was already exist in pre - French period in Vietnam, the country has 1,000 years of establishment and development and compared it  with French and  Western civilization which was brought into Vietnam... 

Thứ Ba, 24 tháng 5, 2016

12 premium and street foods restaurants in Ho Chi Minh recommended by local film Fixer in Vietnam...

I’ve worked with the role of local TV and film fixer in Vietnam to arrange shooting in 12 restaurants in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam for Do More Films (Malaysian production companies) who came to Vietnam to produce Food Maps show for Go ASEAN channel.

Are you looking for an experienced and honest local TV and Film fixer in Vietnam, please drop me an email at 
please have a quick look at our website:

I have a group of Vietnam local fixers to assist you in filming in Vietnam.

If you want to try Vietnam street foods in Ho Chi Minh, here are my recommendations...You can relax in premium restaurants or in family environment stalls.


Banh mi has easily captured the hearts of people the world over. I’m not kidding when I say that - I’ve even seen a banh mi shop in Bristol, and that’s a pretty long way from here! In Vietnamese though, banh mi is actually a term that encompasses all sorts of bread. We were introduced to baguette by the French Colonialists, but we ended up accenting it with our typically Vietnamese flavours. I’d confidently say it’s one of the most delicious sandwiches ever created.

When the French introduced it to us, it was a crisp baguette layered with pate and roasted meats, garnished with fresh herbs. Simplicity at its best, but it didn’t come cheap and became somewhat a symbol of affluence. Rice was still a staple for the common folk, but eventually, bread was embraced by the Vietnamese cuisine too. Cheap meat substitutes, pickled vegetables and fresh chillies were incorporated into the sandwich, and it just snowballed from there! These taste nothing like the way a Banh Mi was intended to taste, and, as you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to find an authentic one. There is one place though, and it’s the only one I’d recommend. Bobby Chinn’s My Banh Mi.

Their banh mi is the most authentic I’ve ever had, and uses the freshest ingredients to create this beautiful combination of flavours. Exactly the way it should be. They’ve got a small menu of banh mi, and every single one is worth a mention. My Banh Mi offers six types of sauces, including a creamy basil that’s to die for.

The meat used in banh mi is usually pork, beef, chicken, or tofu, and I’m pretty sure most of my friends think Im weird for this, but I like chicken best! Their Ho Chi Minh City Banh Mi “No Problem” is a roasted chicken sandwich with pomelo and chilli flakes, and its my go-to. When I crunch into that perfectly baked bread, thin and crispy on the outside…airy on the inside, stuffed with the flavours of my country and the lovely slices of roasted chicken - well…let’s just say I could die happy after one of those.

Another favourite of mine is their Banh Mi “Amour”, a beefy alternative to the typical roast pork or chicken. Trust me when I say, it. is. outstanding. It comes overflowing with slices of roasted sirloin strip and a creamy, smokey black pepper sauce. I love that they don’t hold back on the ingredients, and they really pride themselves on cleanliness and hygiene. You can’t compare them to banh mi from the street…it would be like comparing a gourmet burger to McDonalds.

Someday, I’m gonna try everything on their menu, ‘cos they really know their way around buns!

I can’t imagine sharing a meal with my family and not ordering bong thien ly xao bo. It’s my faaaavourite! It’s this type of flower that seems pretty hard to find outside of Vietnam or China, called the Thien Ly flower, and we’ll usually stir fry it with beef. It’s one of our staple dishes that’s a definite must try when in Vietnam.

Though the flower is native to China, it’s a local favourite here in Vietnam, and can be found (growing) all over the place. They bloom at night and have a strong fragrant smell, similar to Ylang Ylang. I love it! When these flower buds are cooked, they stay this bright green colour and taste quite fragrant. There’s a still a slight scent to it. To try, I’d recommend The Daun. Their food is incredible!

Established by a Singaporean entrepreneur back in 2012, The Daun has quickly risen in the ranks as one of the Top 40 Restaurants in the city on tripadvisor. Having been awarded a Certificate of Excellence, they’re now working towards receiving the Travellers Choice Award. It’s a really popular place, especially with people visiting from Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. Notable guests have included Ministers from those countries, as well as the Johor and Brunei Royal families. Even food critics from France have reviewed them, and they’ve been featured on TV, magazines and newspapers.

The chefs are all local, and the traditional recipes they use have been carefully sourced and curated by the owner himself. The Daun is the perfect place to share a meal with family and friends, and has a really homey feel. Plus, their bong thien ly xao bo is always on point! The flowers they use are fresh, while the beef slices are tender and juicy. The juice tastes delicious with white rice, and I’d recommend trying their other authentic Vietnamese dishes too. Everything is good here! Aside from authentic Vietnamese cuisine, they also offer a variety of dishes from around South East Asia, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s definitely something for everyone here.


Literally translating to beef vinegar, bo nhung dam is a dish that’s usually prepared for family gatherings because everyone can sit around the table with the vinegar hotpot in the middle. It’s also one of the seven courses of the bon 7 mon, or seven courses of beef, which consists of a selection of beef dishes typically served at weddings.

So for this beef dish, everybody is on their own. What I mean by this is that, similar to steamboat, we have took cook at the table ourselves. There’s a technique to it, so let me explain. Place a piece of rice paper on your plate, and then layer it with your vegetables, rice noodles and herbs. Then take a portion of sliced raw beef, and dip it into the vinegar hotpot to cook. Give it a few seconds. Once it’s ready, place the vinegar beef on your vegetable base and roll it up. Dip the whole thing into mam nem, a chunky fish sauce that’s sweet and tangy. Pop it into your mouth and voila, you’re munching away on something you just put together with your own hands!

I personally love it because it’s such a communal thing to do, and brings the whole family together, so it’s special, you know? Oh! To really appreciate this dish though, it’s important to find a place that serves raw beef that’s fresh and good quality. Hoa Tuc Restaurant is one of those places, and has been a family favourite ever since I can remember.

When they opened, they pushed the boundaries of traditional cuisine and were Ho Chi Minh’s first contemporary Vietnamese cuisine restaurant. The venue? An old opium refinery from the Colonial Era. Hence the name “Hoa Tuc”, or Poppy, in English. They kept the original pillars within, and have French Colonial interiors that are just exquisite. In my opinion, it’s one of the nicest dining spaces in the city. The attention to detail even goes so far as to have beautifully designed place mats! The interiors are a draw in itself, but I personally like sitting on the terrace, where I’m surrounded by leaf-covered walls. At least when the weather isn’t too hot!


Odds are, you’ll probably have eaten Vietnamese Spring Rolls at least once in your life, especially if you’re a fan of Asian cuisine. And if you haven’t, you’re missin’ out! In 2011, it was listed 30th on CNNGo’s World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods list, and they’re right, it truly is delicious. The Vietnamese have perfected the art of rolling this fresh summer delicacy and it’s become as much a part of our cultural identity as Pho.

Known locally as Gỏi Cuốn, it traditionally consists of ground meats, vegetables, rice vermicelli, and other refreshing ingredients wrapped in rice paper. Unlike deep fried spring rolls, these aren’t actually cooked on the outside, and so are often referred to as “fresh” or “cold” rolls. It’s assembled by dampening rice paper and layering the veggies, herbs, rice noodles, and beef slices, then being tightly rolled and held together by thinly spread rice noodles, which I like to think of as “the glue”.

Usually served at room temperature, this appetiser is the perfect way to kickstart your meal, or as a quick healthy snack. They’re a pretty popular street snack because they can be prepped in advance and eaten later, so you can find vendors selling them all around the city. But if left for too long, these spring rolls get sticky and end up not being so nice to eat. The fresher the better, and some of the freshest Vietnamese spring rolls I’ve had come from Huong Lai.

So Huong Lai is this quaint Vietnamese restaurant tucked away in the historic area of Bến Nghé, in an old French shophouse that’s hundreds of years old. Large wooden shutters decorate a small entrance, while a narrow stairway leads up to the beautiful rustic restaurant above. As for their fresh spring rolls, well they’re just sensational! The ingredients they use are fresh, sweet, and crunchy, while the rice paper isn’t too thick or sticky. But the real trick to a good Vietnamese spring roll is how tightly its rolled. And they sure roll it tight. Oh, and I can’t forget about the dip. The dip is everything! And Huong Lai’s dipping sauce is legit.

Aside from the fresh spring rolls, they’ve also got the deep fried variety, which has ground beef, mushrooms, potatoes and onions within. I’ll usually order both types to start off with, and then have a com tay cam hai san as my main. That’s basically seafood and vegetablee rice served in a claypot. It’s delish!


If there’s one dish I absolutely have to rave about, it’s Pho. How could I not talk about Vietnam’s national dish? It’s sold everywhere, from the fanciest of restaurants to the slummiest of street corners. It’s aromatic, it’s nutritious, and it’s an absolute must-have. This comforting noodle soup is packed with flat rice noodles, herbs, meat, and of course, a hearty broth. It’s got just a few simple ingredients, which is probably why it’s an extremely popular street food. Im not exaggerating when I say it can be found anywhere in the city.

Originally from North Vietnam, it has been brought to the world thanks to refugees after the Vietnam War. An essential dish to Vietnamese cuisine, Pho is often eaten at any time of the day. Like any other national dish around the world, locals like to dispute about where to get the best one. My vote goes to Pho Phuong 25, where the Pho is un(Pho)gettable. See what I did there?

Without a doubt, the best in town. They specialise in all sorts of beef pho, and the broth has such a sweet, lovely aroma, you can smell it wafting from across the street! Mmm that smell of simmering beef…and those awesome herbs…it puts a grin on my face immediately. I can almost taste it now!

The owner of Pho Phuong 25 comes from the North, so you know they’ve got the technique down and everything. Her parents established the restaurant almost 30 years ago. The broth’s impeccable taste is one that can only be achieved by hours and hours of simmering. They actually start making the broth a day before, at 10am, for them to use the next day from 6am onwards. Nearly a whole day just for the broth!

The ingredients are really fresh, and a bowl of pho from here reminds me of a comforting home-cooked meal. The noodles are placed at the bottom, and then thin slices of beef are layered on top, a handful of herbs are tossed in, and finally, some pepper is sprinkled on top. Eat it like a local by using the fresh herbs on the side to garnish your meal, including some sweet basil, thinly sliced yellow chillies and sawtooth coriander. The chillies have quite a kick, so be sparing if you can’t handle your spice!


If there’s one thing the Vietnamese love more than rice, its gotta be rice noodles. It’s one of the main ingredients we use for our noodle-based dishes, including the infamous Pho, Vietnamese Spring rolls, and even in salads! But what happens when you combine it with our other favourite ingredient - fermented fish sauce? I know what’s going through your head. You’re probably thinking, “fermented”? That sounds gross! But try not to be put off by the word, because the dish I’m talking about is absolutely delicious and isn’t as pungent as you might think.

I’m talking about Bun Mam, a thick cloudy soup we sometimes call a “Vietnamese gumbo”. Doesn’t that sound a million times better than “fermented fish soup”? It’s actually not unlike the Penang Laksa, with flavours touching on rich, tangy, sour, and spicy. A favourite combo in many South East Asian countries. A taste of this sour seafood soup may leave you craving it more than a bowl of pho.

To make a bun mam uses typical ingredients from the Mekong Delta, including fish paste, shrimp paste, fresh shrimp and a mix of other seafood. Hence its “gumbo” nickname. The rice noodles used are thicker than the ones in pho, but it’s also packed with veggies and herbs. Add the fresh herbs provided, as well as a couple of slices of green chilies and you’re well on your way to eating it like a local. I wouldn’t suggest a bowl of this on an unbearably hot day though, ‘cos you’re sure to end up a sweaty mess. Friends recommend places to get bun mam to me all the time, but I’m especially picky when it comes to bun mam. The only person I’ll get my fix from is the Lunch Lady.

The Lunch Lady is a really famous and beloved Vietnamese street food stall in Ho Chi Minh, and if you enjoy yourself a bowl of noodles as much as I do, then you’ve got to try hers. She specialises in noodle dishes, and has been at it for over 19 years. The recipes of popular Southern Vietnamese dishes she uses have been in her family for 3 generations. Anthony Bourdain is a fan of her noodle dishes, and was actually the person that labelled her The Lunch Lady, and whatever Anthony Bourdain says, goes, so it just stuck!

A passionate cook, she serves a different noodle dish every day of the week, so a lot of people plan what day to go in order to slurp up their favourite bowl of noodles. You can expect a bowl of her bun mam to be packed with large prawns, squid, eggplant, tofu and okra. The medium sized rice noodles are bouncy, while the soup is thick and full of flavour. She serves bun mam on Thursdays, and operates from 10:30AM to 3:30PM.


Like a lot of Vietnamese dishes, you can usually smell this from a mile away. A sweet, salty, roasting caramel smell…wafts of onion and garlic…and then you see it and you’re sold. I’m talking about Ca Kho To, a dish of caramelised fish slowly braised in a clay pot, bubbling away in its own juices and a smooth golden sauce to drizzle over your rice. Mmm I can taste it already!

The clay pot the fish was cooked in is served as is, and we do this because clay pots stay hot for a really long time, which means…your meal stays hot throughout your meal! The most common types of fish used for this dish are catfish steaks and sometimes snakehead, but no matter the fish, I’m pretty certain this will always taste amazing. The sauce is a combo of soy sauce, fish sauce, oil and sugar, and the fish is braised in this until it caramelises. To round it off, it’s sprinkled with chopped green onions, which, if I could take an educated guess, is one of our favourite garnishes of all time.

The sugar makes the sauce extra sticky, and goes spectacularly with rice. The smell alone is good enough to make you salivate uncontrollably, and decide on the spot to have some. So imagine the taste! It’s definitely one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, but if you don’t go to the right place, there’s a chance of the fish not being fresh, or the dish being too greasy. So, I like dropping by Halal@Saigon when I’m in the area.

Halal@Saigon was established in 2007 and serves Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. You often see a mix of people dining there, and everyone I know who’s eaten here has only good things to say. It was originally established by an Indian guy about 9 years ago, but was later bought over by a local entrepreneur who’s got 19 other restaurants, so he knows a thing or two about running a restaurant. Halal@Saigon makes a delicious Ca Kho To…the fish is fresh, tender, and juicy, and the flavours are just so easy to fall in love with. My mouth is watering at the thought of it. Please, I’m begging you, don’t deprive your tastebuds of caramelised fish from a clay pot.


Snails are something of a delicacy the world over, but are especially loved in Vietnam. We’ve even got snail buffets, and thats a pretty unique experience in itself! A Friday night in Ho Chi Minh will see hoards of Vietnamese indulging in ‘Shell Tapas’, where one can basically enjoy anything that has a shell. Snails, clams, oysters, shrimp…anything, you name it! It’d probably be on the menu.

Snail buffets, known locally as Quan Oc, are pretty hard to miss thanks to their showy rows of fresh fare along the outside of each restaurant. It’s a pretty unique sight, so I never fail to slow down for a look at what they’ve got when I walk past. The Vietnamese LOVE Quan Oc. I think we love it so much because we get to spend quality time with our friends and family, sharing food and drinks, catching up and just enjoying each others’ company. It’s a very social experience.

Head over to Sea Snail A Soi, where I know the snails are delivered fresh. They also know their way around the kitchen!

To start off with, we choose from an array of shell fish, and then decide how we want each type cooked. They can fry, grill, stew, or dry stir-fry whatever you choose. If you’d like oysters mixed into your noodle dish, they can even do that, but I like to order mine stir-fried with different sauces, like sweet chilli.

But unless you’ve got someone who speaks the language with you, it’s gonna be pretty hard to communicate your order, so you’ll likely be playing a game of roulette, not quite sure what you’re gonna get. That’s part of the fun though isn’t it? And once they arrive, you get to pry and fork out the meat from giant shells, or suck the chewy meat from within a small spiralled shell. So rewarding and so, so fun. Honestly, eating snails in Ho Chi Minh is just about the greatest experiences our city has to offer. I personally think it’s unmissable!


You’ve never had a coffee like this one. Trust me. Uniquely Vietnamese, it’s traditionally made using egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk, and a strong, full-bodied coffee. Almost always Vietnamese coffee powder. I know that may sound a little weird, but it’s the best!! It has the consistency of a melted custard and I’ve read a Buzzfeed article that describes it as a “liquid tiramisu”. And yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds. More like a dessert than a drink really.

Egg Coffee was created in Hanoi during the French Indochina War, a time when fresh milk was rare and the bottoms of cups were lined with condensed milk and topped off with coffee. That’s the Vietnamese coffee, which is still served the same way today. Apparently though, the guy who invented the Egg Coffee didn’t have either of those, so he substituted an egg yolk instead. It wasn’t popular at first ‘cos the coffee tasted too eggy and took a long time to make, but today’s is totally different affair and doesn’t taste eggy at all!

There aren’t too many places to get an egg coffee in Ho Chi Minh, as it’s more popular in Hanoi, but there’s this one place called Luu Gia Cafe, where you’re able to sample this North Vietnamese treat.

Basically what they do is brew a cup of Vietnamese coffee and set it aside. Then, they whisk an egg yolk and sweet condensed milk together so vigorously that it creates a frothy, fluffy mixture. They place this sweet creamy froth on top of the Vietnamese coffee, and what you’ve got is a beautiful egg coffee begging to be stirred and sipped on. It really hits the spot.

If you’re not a coffee drinker, the egg-centric menu offers egg matcha and egg chocolate too. The egg matcha is made with Japanese matcha powder and egg yolk, somewhat similar to a matcha latte. The egg chocolate is something I’ve seen both kids and adults sip away at with eyes closed in delight. It takes hot chocolate to a whole new level.


Grilled chicken is a pretty common dish anywhere in the world, and, of course, the Vietnamese have many of their own ways of doing it too. But there’s one way in particular that I find outstanding, and as far as grilled chicken goes, it’s my favourite kind of grilled chicken in the world. It’s called Ga Nuong Chang, or Grilled Kaffir Lime Chicken.

So the chicken is marinaded in this beautiful concoction of thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, sugar, garlic, fish sauce and some other stuff, and then it’s grilled it to perfection over charcoal. And what do we get? A classic sweet-savoury combination of typically Vietnamese flavours in an easy to love dish.

When done right, the chicken should be juicy, tender, and fragrant. I know this great restaurant knows their way around the grill. It’s called Ru Pho Bar. It’s one of those places that’s received a Certificate of Excellence from tripadvisor, so you can’t really go wrong here.


They marinade their chicken for over _ hours, and once you try theirs, you’ll want your chicken grilled this way for the rest of your life. It comes with a serving of brown rice and sautéed green beans and the flavours pair so well, it’s like they were made for each other! It’s super healthy and what’s really special about this place is that they don’t add preservatives or MSG. They’re food is totally authentic, and they stick to some amazing family recipes, which go back at least _ years.


Like many places in South East Asia, Vietnam has their own variety of traditional local desserts. Sweet beverages, dessert soups and puddings all fall under a family of desserts termed “Chè", and the ingredients we use are very similar to our neighbours. Some common choices include mung beans, tapioca, jellies, fruit, glutinous rice and coconut cream…but that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There’re so many varieties of che, it would be impossible to try and count them all.

Some are hot, some are cold…some are sweet, some are savoury. The list goes on, but one thing’s for certain, it’ll either come served in a glass or a bowl. Just like the choice of che, there’s an endless list of che shops around Ho Chi Minh. I’m a creature of habit though, so when I want my che, I go to Che My 2.

Che My 2 is a chain of sweet pudding shops that I really like, because they put just the right amount of everything in their desserts. They don’t hold back on the ingredients, but they don’t overdo it either.


It’s an extremely popular dessert…I find it hard to pick just one to recommend, so here are three - Chè Thái, Chè ba màu and Chè chuối. Che Thai is Vietnam’s adaptation of Thailand’s tub tim grawb, but ours is less sweet and has more fruits like longan, lychee, palm seed, jackfruit, and my favourite…durian! It’s like an Asian fruit cocktail - easily my favourite summer drink slash dessert.

Then there’s Chè ba màu, which translates to three coloured dessert. Anyone wanna guess why? OK, it’s pretty obvious - it comes with three types of coloured jellies and beans sliding around in a slightly sweetened coconut juice. They layer the different colours, so part of the fun is mixing it all up and then picking them out to chew on.

Last but not least is Chè chuối, a soupy pudding of sweet bananas, sago pearls, and coconut milk. It’s sweet and creamy with hints of banana, and they sprinkle roasted peanuts on top to add a bit of texture. It’s one of those comfort foods I ended up learning how to make at home, because that’s how much I love it.

If nothing on the menu tickles your fancy, try picking from their colourful bowls of assorted jellies and sweet stuffs, then get them to drench it in coconut milk. For the most part, the weather in Ho Chi Minh is hot and sticky, so grabbing a chilled che is the most ideal way to cool down by far.


Banh xeo literally means sizzling cake, because that’s the sound it makes when the batter is poured onto a hot skillet. A savoury Vietnamese pancake similar to the French crepe, except for virtually every single ingredient being different. Surprise, surprise, we use rice flour, turmeric powder and water for the batter. As for the stuffing, it’s typically meat, shrimp, chopped green onions and bean sprouts. The ingredients differ from region to region, and in Ho Chi Minh, we like to add in a little coconut milk.

One of Ho Chi Minh’s signature dishes, many places boast to have the best banh xeo in town, but we locals have a way of sussing out the good from the mediocre. We like to eat at places that specialise in just one thing, and Banh Xeo 46A does just that. They’re pretty legendary, having been around for over _ years, with a steady stream of regular customers who come back time and time again.

This place is pretty much always busy, with both locals and tourists attracted to this spot like bees to pollen. It’s Anthony Bourdain-approved, and is possibly the city’s best known eatery for Vietnamese pancakes. They have a solid reputation for some of the best banh xeo in town, and I like to think they’ve stayed true to their roots, with barely anything having changed in over 20 years.

They’ve got a few different varieties to choose from, depending on what your vice is.

So how you eat it is this, first off - you gotta eat it with your hands, in classic Vietnamese fashion. Grab a large piece of lettuce, and start layering whatever you like from the banh xeo into your hand roll. Top it off with raw veggies and herbs like mint, cilantro and cucumbers, or pickled carrots and shallots if you fancy it, and then sorta wrap it up. It can get pretty messy once you dunk this hand roll into a _ dip, and try to crunch down on it without making a complete mess of yourself. Don’t worry though, we’re all part of the same struggle. Just don’t wear white!