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Vietnamese Food!

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Ken Schechet

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Vietnamese Food!

by Ken Schechet » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:03 pm

I recently spent two weeks touring Vietnam, with an emphasis on the food of the country, although there is plenty more to be fascinated with there. I have written two articles for my friend Mark Spivak's blog Eat Drink Journey. The first, which is a street food crawl in Hanoi, was posted today. The second, and maybe more interesting, on Vietnamese food all over the country should be posted on Friday. I don't know how much they will be edited or which of the many pictures I took will be included. There should be a recipe in the second article that I got from a cooking class I took in Hoi An.

I traveled to Vietnam via Singapore and spent several days there. If you scroll down the site you'll find two articles about Singapore street food that appeared two weeks ago.

I'd really be curious to hear comments from other forum members who have been to those countries about their experiences and thoughts, and whether your reactions were similar to mine. I don't have a lot of friends who have been there and who I can talk to about it.

If you're interested the link is http://eatdrinkjourney.com.
Ken
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Rahsaan

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Rahsaan » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:56 pm

Nice work. I've only been to Vietnam once, almost 20 (!) years ago in 1999. Your photos brought back a lot of memories.

Including my first meal after landing in Saigon, navigating the traffic mess and sitting down on those small plastic chairs outside a restaurant to eat some deliciously light fried squid.
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Mike Filigenzi » Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:42 pm

I have nothing to offer in regards to Vietnam, but I liked the writeup very much. And now I really want to try those "pork doughnuts".
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Jo Ann Henderson

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Jo Ann Henderson » Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:46 pm

Nice article. Beautiful, interesting pictures. Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand are my next large (and probably final) international trek. Sounds like you went with a group/tour? If so, which did you use and would you recommend. I have a couple friends from those country and each has said we will travel there together one day. But, it's been near 5 years and the one day has yet to materialize. So, I'm beginning to plan a trip on my own. Thanks for sharing.
"...To undersalt deliberately in the name of dietary chic is to omit from the music of cookery the indispensable bass line over which all tastes and smells form their harmonies." -- Robert Farrar Capon
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Ken Schechet

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Ken Schechet » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:00 pm

Jo Ann, I've gotten this question so many times I may write another article on it.

I absolutely detest group tours and will never go on another one. Aside from the fact that I don't like being herded around like a cow, I think being in a group isolates you from everything you want to interact with. They also tend to arrange meals around the lowest common denominator so your odds of getting actual local food are very low.

Years ago I started finding people who would help you plan a trip, make reservations for you, etc for a fee. This seems to have evolved into a more sophisticated industry and we found a wonderful example in Hanoi. We somehow discovered a company called Custom Vietnam Travel and wound up working with a woman named Liliana Pham. Through emails and phone calls we arranged a trip from one end of the country to the other involving touring, meals, bicycle trips, boat trips, internal plane trips and private guides and drivers. (You do need some help navigating a country like Vietnam.) The guides (really Vietnamese buddies) were with us from morning until sometime in the afternoon most days, and then we were on our own for the rest of the day and dinner. They would recommend favorite restaurants, but we made the final decisions. The restaurants they picked for lunch (which was included in the price) were excellent. We had an itinerary but we often changed it on the fly, wanting to see what a grocery store was selling rather than seeing another temple. They even gave us a company cellphone so we could contact someone anytime in case we got in trouble. The hotels were all good and extremely well located and even quiet, which is a trick in Vietnam.

The entire bill for just under two weeks of private guides, hotels, internal flights, boat trips, bike trips, etc, etc for both of us was $2,600. You can't stay home for that little. Once you get there Vietnam is the biggest bargain I've ever seen in many decades of traveling.

Liliana is at liliana@customvietnamtravel.com or at +84 437185750, cellphone: +84 1682 844 129. We met her in Hanoi. She is great and I can't recommend her enough. If you use services like Skype you can call Vietnam for about 3 cents/minute.

BTW, we wound up first in Singapore because we found a nonstop from San Fran to there. We decided to stay in Singapore for several days to recover, get used to the time change and see another country. It was a great decision. That's a wonderful place to visit and it's a couple hour flight from there to Vietnam.

If you want more detailed information or to talk about this send me a message and we'll work it out. You should definately go.
Ken
Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can change, and wine to accept the things I can't.
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Jo Ann Henderson

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Jo Ann Henderson » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:54 pm

PERFECT! Thank you for this Ken. I've got you in my scope and will get in touch soon.
"...To undersalt deliberately in the name of dietary chic is to omit from the music of cookery the indispensable bass line over which all tastes and smells form their harmonies." -- Robert Farrar Capon
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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Rahsaan » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:59 pm

Ken Schechet wrote: We decided to stay in Singapore for several days to recover, get used to the time change and see another country. It was a great decision. That's a wonderful place to visit and it's a couple hour flight from there to Vietnam.


Nothing wrong with eating in Singapore!

The combination of high quality Indian, Malaysian and Chinese food is nothing to sneeze at. Plus all the tropical fruits.

Nothing wrong with eating in Singapore!
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Jenise

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Jenise » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:17 pm

being in a group isolates you from everything you want to interact with. They also tend to arrange meals around the lowest common denominator so your odds of getting actual local food are very low.


Precisely our experience in China, the one 'tour' we've been on and why we'll never go on another. In some cases the so-called local foods were pseudo restaurants open only for the sake of serving tour groups Americanized Chinese food. The tour group did afford us entry to some places we wouldn't have seen otherwise, but indeed the best experiences we had there were the days we ditched the group and wandered out on our own.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Ken Schechet

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Ken Schechet » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:25 pm

Jenise, sorry you had that experience. China is fabulous and I've had some beyond amazing meals and experiences there without a guide.

Full disclosure: I went to China quite a few times on business and became very comfortable wondering around Shanghai and Beijing by myself. I also got some help from locals I was dealing with. But China is mostly pretty big cities and there is no big city on earth that you can't do by yourself. Take a day tour to familiarize yourself with the city, then go back to the places that looked interesting. They all have cabs, they all have public transportation, they all have people in hotels who will help you. With all the information on the internet these days you can do minimal research and do very well. Also, I've always met people who would recommend sights and restaurants. Most countries have good train systems to get from place to place.

I'm really becoming an ambassador for people like Liliana in Hanoi who can help you put your own trip together. Or just get on a plane and do it!
Ken
Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can change, and wine to accept the things I can't.
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Jenise

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Jenise » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:49 pm

I was amazed, on that trip, how many others put up with the propaganda and Americanized entertainment like an evening show in Xian of supposed antique instruments wherein a Chinese woman appeared on the stage in a floor length red velvet gown with white fur cuffs and collar right out of the Bing Crospy movie White Christmas (it was about 100 F outside) and started singing Red River Valley. Bob and I look at each other and went, "We're outta here." So instead we walked Xian by night, discovering a wonderful night market, interacting with friendly bakers who demonstrated their dough technique while getting ready for morning, taking a picture with our camera to show a little boy who had never seen himself on a screen before, and playing Chinese checkers with old men sitting on old, wooden soda pop crates. Another night in Beijing we ditched the opera and ate street food in the hutongs (did I get that word right?) before settling in for Chinese smoked duck somewhere. Those experiences are priceless.
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My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Vietnamese Food!

by Jeff Grossman » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:46 am

Yes, Jenise, hutongs.

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