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Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is a Destination Dining Redefining Global Gastronomy

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Redefines Global Gastronomy as a Destination Dining

In recent years, Vietnam has become recognized as one of the must visit, premiere dining destinations on the planet. 

From bustling street food markets, where the aroma of sizzling meats, zesty herbs and fragrant spices fills the air, to the abundance of premiere fine dining restaurants showcasing local Vietnamese flavors infused into classic European recipes, Vietnam promises its international visitors an unparalleled East meets West culinary adventure. 

In 2016, Anthony Bourdain taught former President Barack Obama the art of the noodle slurp, while throwing back some local Vietnamese beers, and feasting on piping hot bowls of Bún Chả at a local Hanoian restaurant.

In a recent interview, Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsey named Vietnam his top food destination in the world.  The Michelin Guide recently awarded three of Vietnam’s leading restaurants their coveted stars for the 2023 season. 

To say the country is achieving sensational, and well earned, praise on the global culinary stage is an understatement, and with post-Covid international tourism sharply on the rise, we thought we’d to share our top 5 picks for some of the best dining destinations within Vietnam’s bustling southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City.

 

SUBLIME SUSHI

Noriboi

Noriboi has reimagined traditional Japanese cuisine with their artistic, and highly inspired, modernist approach to their fine dining menus. 

Evoking a one-of-a-kind, and simply astonishing, multi-sensory gastronomic experience, their expert team of Japanese trained Master Sushi Chefs, each a Vietnamese native, apply molecular gastronomy to craft and underscore each dish, producing sublime artistic presentations, unsurpassed by even the best restaurants in Tokyo. 

Utilizing only the very finest seafood, Wagyu Beef and even rice, imported daily from Japan, and paired with regional Vietnamese and specialty ingredients, each plate is an utter triumph of taste, texture and artistic presentation. 

In addition to their daily Omakase and a la carte menu offerings, Noriboi is also known for their exclusive dining events, which upon announcement on their social media outlets becomes the hottest reservation in town, sold-out within hours of their postings. 

10-course Summer Truffle Omakase

They recently presented a 10-course Summer Truffle Omakase, where each dish was highlighted by the earthy and distinctive flavor of freshly shaved imported European truffles, and a Kegani Omakase, with the highly coveted Kegani Hairy Crabs, a seasonal Japanese delicacy, as the focus ingredient. 

If you wish to experience truly outstanding Japanese food during your trip to Saigon, Noriboi cannot be missed.

35 Ngo Quang Huy Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City

 

All-Day Dining Divine

LUCA

LUCA – Eatery & Bar Lounge is a fantastic all-day dining eatery, offering its guests a bountiful array of local Vietnamese and Western dishes to choose from, satisfying even the most discerning and astute culinary palate. 

It’s a favorite restaurant destination for neighborhood locals and visiting tourists alike, craving an inventive and sophisticated array of dishes, served at any time of the day.  With menus designed by their talented Executive Chef An, for breakfast or Brunch, the fluffy Soufflé Pancakes, decadent Luxe Lobster Benedict and their Phở Bò Luca, an elevated spin on the Vietnamese classic, are spectacular. And for the coffee lover, try their Vietnamese Salted Egg Coffee, a staple beverage from Hanoi- rich, creamy, salty and sweet. 

For lunch, the Summer Peaches and Kale Salad is crisp, refreshing, and the perfect choice for a hot Saigon summer’s day, as is the Scallop Carpaccio with raw sweet Hokkaido Scallops, gently kissed with a drizzle of Yuzu sauce for a touch of acid.  

For Happy Hour, indulge in a platter of the freshest Miyagi Oysters, perfect to pair with a late afternoon glass or two of Rosé.  And for dinner, a hardy Australian Rib Eye Steak should do the trick, served with Chef’s signature Steak Sauce.  At any time of the day when visiting Saigon, Luca is a great choice to experience a chic dining atmosphere and truly wonderful food.

49 Xuan Thuy Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City

 

American Comfort Food Infused with Vietnamese Flavors

OKRA Foodbar

Chicago, Illinois born Chef-Owner Jamie Celaya developed his menu to showcase the incredible bounty of regional produce, products, and seasonings available in Vietnam. 

Described as

“International Izakaya, third culture cuisine”

which to the laymen doesn’t make sense until you experience it, Okra offers “Subtle” small plates of vegetable forward comfort food, meant for sharing, and a selection of larger portioned “Sufficient” mains for a healthy appetite. 

Located in Thao Dien, in District two, this intimate and contemporary eatery with a laid back and unpretentious vibe serves up simply delicious food and craft cocktails, with warm and friendly service. 

Must try dishes at Okra include their spin on Street Corn, with Cilantro, Parmesan, Chili, Brown Bourbon Butter and Pork Floss, Grilled Broccolini with Truffle Crème Fraiche & Sa Tế Chili Oil, Land & Sea-Viche, a Sea Bass Crudo with Braised Pigs Ear, Chili, Lime and Bánh Tráng, and their signature Charred Okra with Preserved Lemon-Tomato Jam, Curry Yogurt, Burnt Pomelo and Sarsaparilla-za Atar. 

And to wash it all down, a chilled glass of Mùa Craft Sake on draft, also proudly brewed in Vietnam.

10 Thao Dien Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City  

 

Contemporary Vietnamese Cuisine & Cocktails 

The Triệu Institute

 

The concept of pairing craft cocktails with food is a gastronomic trend which has gained tremendous popularity in recent years in Vietnam, and no dining destination has perfected this principle better than The Triệu Institute.

They serve inventive contemporary Vietnamese dishes containing all the aromatics found within the gins of their namesake craft gin brand Lady Triệu, and their food and bespoke beverages blend in perfect harmony, allowing each patron to eat and drink simultaneously the bold, and singular flavors which Vietnam has become so famous for.  

A popular pairing include the Cured Kingfish, pickled with a housemade Hibiscus Vinegar which takes eight to ten weeks to complete, infusing sweet, sour, and floral notes deep within the fish, and a Flower General cocktail, containing Dalat Flowerbomb Gin, Wasabi, Jasmine Syrup and Seaweed Foam;  it’s a perfected combination.

10 Mac Thi Buoi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

 

Vietnamese Cuisine Portraying a Story

Nén Light Restaurant

Deeply committed to producing preeminent modern Vietnamese cuisine which pays homage to their country’s rich and vibrant heritage, Nén Light’s team of outstanding culinary artists developed their restaurant’s concept of Conscious Vietnamese Cuisine (Ẩm Thực Nhìn) to showcase their knowledge, appreciation and deep respect for their native roots and beloved culture. 

Serving wildly creative, 6-9 course storytelling tasting menus, they showcase hyper-local Vietnamese ingredients discovered on foraging trips throughout Central Vietnam, and guide each guest though a unique and unparalleled culinary journey which engages all five senses. 

Along with a Sake pairing, expertly curated by their in-house Sake Sommelier, and a “Conversation Pairing”, allowing servers to share the story behind the evolution of each plate,  a visit to Nén Light Restaurant will guarantee a singular and unrivaled immersive Vietnamese dining experience.

122/2 Tran Dinh Xu, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, Ho Chi Minh City

 

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Secret of Caesar salad: John Robert Sutton Reveals on “Foods That Matter” Podcast

Secret of Caesar salad: John Robert Sutton Reveals on “Foods That Matter” Podcast

The Caesar salad was NOT invented in Italy!

The iconic dish, celebrating its 100th birthday this year, has roots in Tijuana, Mexico.

Foods That Matter John Robert Sutton

Foods ThatMatter John Robert Sutton

To celebrate, podcast host of CurtCo Media’s Foods That Matter and seasoned food archaeologist John Robert Sutton joined Juan José “Tana” Plascencia, the owner of Caesar’s Restaurant – home of the first Caesar salad – in person.

To eat some original recipe salad and chat about how, why, where, and by whom the dish came to be one of the most popular menu items in the US.

John and Tana’s intriguing conversation, starting with the recipe’s origins and ending with its worldwide prominence, is available on Foods That Matter on all major podcast platforms. You get a firsthand look at the backstory of Caesar salad, delving into all the rich flavors and history that made it such an important influence in the dining world.

Near or visiting Tijuana?

Join Tana at the centennial celebration at Caesar’s Restaurant on July 7, 2024. Plus, if you tell Tana that you listened to this episode of Foods That Matter – Celebrating 100 Years of Caesar Salad with the Origin Story that Starts in Tijuana, Mexico – he will give you the authentic recipe to take home!

About Foods That Matter:
Come along for a culinary thrill as Foods That Matter transports foodies to corners of the world through stories of adventure with food archeologist John Robert Sutton, also known as ‘The Indiana Jones of Food.’

John unlocks the secrets to the globe’s extraordinary cuisines, as he’s been doing throughout his travels in over 120 countries while enriching top grocery stores and Michelin-starred chefs with the finest ingredients and powering them with quality products.

The presenting sponsor of Foods That Matter is Watkins, award-winning extracts, spices & herbs, seasoning blends, grilling rubs & marinades, artificial dye-free baking decorations, and more crafted in the USA since 1868. The show is available on podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, SpotifyYouTube and Goodpods.

About CurtCo Media:
CurtCo Media – with its talented producers and creative team – provides listeners with quality podcasts, featuring authoritative hosts, distinguished guests, and inspiring storytellers. The company presents many nationally-recognized series, covering topics such as scripted sci-fi (SOLAR), luxury (Cars That MatterTravel That Matters, Wines That Matter) and others.

Nén Danang Awarded 2024 MICHELIN Green Star for Sustainability

Nén Danang Awarded 2024 MICHELIN Green Star for Sustainability

At the prestigious MICHELIN Awards Ceremony held at the InterContinental Hotel Saigon, a notable achievement was celebrated within the realm of sustainable gastronomy: Nén Danang, a pioneer in Vietnam’s fine dining scene, was honored with the 2024 MICHELIN Green Star for Excellence in Sustainability. As the first Vietnamese restaurant in the world to be recognized, as well as the first in Vietnam, this accolade underscores Nén’s commitment to innovative and environmentally conscious practices that set a benchmark for the industry.

The Michelin Green Star, a prestigious annual award, celebrates restaurants leading the industry in sustainability. Highlighting establishments that uphold rigorous ethical and environmental standards, this accolade recognizes those who collaborate with sustainable producers and suppliers to minimize waste and reduce or eliminate plastics and other non-recyclable materials. To date, only 540 restaurants worldwide have earned this honor, offering dining experiences that not only exemplify culinary excellence but also demonstrate exceptional eco-friendly practices. These restaurants serve as beacons of inspiration for both enthusiastic foodies and the broader hospitality industry.

Nén Danang, under the visionary leadership of Chef Summer Le and her partner Leon Le, has been instrumental in redefining what it means to dine sustainably. With a culinary philosophy deeply rooted in the principles of ethical and environmental stewardship, Nén sources 99% of its ingredients locally, including from its own farms, thereby supporting Vietnam’s local economies and artisans while minimizing environmental impact. This approach not only ensures the freshest ingredients but also fosters a strong connection with the community and the natural world.

The restaurant’s Sto:ry Menus exemplify this ethos, merging rich Vietnamese traditions with inventive dining experiences. Each dish is a celebration of nature and a narrative of culture, crafted to offer a multi-sensory delight that evokes emotions ranging from joy to nostalgia. Notably, their Sto:ry Menu #5 is a zero-waste venture that transforms everyday ingredients, such as eggshells into noodles, showcasing an innovative approach to sustainability.

The core of Nén’s culinary identity lies in its commitment to ‘Conscious Vietnamese cuisine.’ The restaurant’s ethos—origin, aesthetic, intention, balance, emotion, and presence—guides its culinary choices. Each aspect, from the sourcing of ingredients to the final presentation, is thoughtfully curated to enhance the dining experience, making every meal an event of conscious consumption and enjoyment.

Nén’s unique approach to cuisine also reflects in its name, derived from a humble but flavorful ingredient found in Central Vietnam’s kitchens. This reflects the restaurant’s philosophy: finding potential in the overlooked and elevating it to something extraordinary. It’s about transforming simplicity into splendor, turning each meal into an exploration of the hidden depths of Vietnamese culinary traditions.

Located next to Nén Farm in Da Nang, the restaurant serves as the flagship for a brand that is deeply invested in research and sustainability. Despite challenges like a temporary closure during the Covid-19 pandemic, Nén Danang reopened in 2023 with renewed vigor and a continued focus on its sustainable mission. This commitment culminated in receiving Vietnam’s first and only MICHELIN Green Star in 2024, a testament to its leadership in promoting a sustainable and ethically aware dining culture.

Through Nén Danang, diners are invited not just to eat, but to experience stories through flavors, where each dish serves as a dialogue between the chef and the earth, a narrative that continues to inspire both food enthusiasts and culinary peers around the world.

 

WeHo’s Newest culinary experience: Blue Birdy Gastropub Opens on Sunset Strip Near legendary Whiskey A-Go-Go

Sunset Strip’s Blue Birdy Gastropub Opens Near legendary Whiskey A-Go-Go

Located two doors down from the legendary Whiskey A-Go-Go is a brand-new culinary experience.

Blue Birdy offers up some super tasty gastropub fare on the iconic Sunset Strip.

Blue Birdy opened its doors to amazing success in early 2024, due largely to its chef and owner JC Mahdavi.

JC is no stranger to success since he’s been in the restaurant business, having owned Joxer Daly’s in Culver City for many years. His formula is great food mixed with solid cocktail recipes. Joxer Daly’s is an Irish Pub/Sports Bar with a neighborhood feel, a true staple in the culinary landscape of Los Angeles.

He brings that same philosophy to Blue Birdy but with more of an upscale vibe.

Blue Birdy has a French-influenced menu. JC implements his family’s recipes, hailing from France, he knows what good mouthwatering food is and how to create it.

“I want my customers to feel comfortable at Blue Birdy,

a place that they can come to and leave the stress of their day behind,

enjoy great libations and wonderfully inspired gastropub cuisine.”

owner JC Mahdavi

Blue Birdy’s menu includes a wonderful specialty cocktail program, all made from scratch.

The Boom Ba Da packs a nice punch, with its smooth lemon flavor and gorgeous presentation.

Strawberry Fields is a nice refreshing blend of champagne vodka and strawberry puree, almost like a smoothy but with a nice marriage of citrus essences, which has a great mouth feel. Brunch items are huge and super tasty.

Their French Toast is unlike any other, with ube, cream cheese, and sugar-filled, it’s purple and really is amazing. The Short Rib Benedict is comfort brunch at its best, a must-try.

Their Noodle Salad is perfect for the health-conscious diner as well as their tempura asparagus. Entree menu items include Lemon Herb Chicken, Steak and Fries, Fish & Chips, Teriyaki Salmon, and lots of Burgers – all simply delectable.

Whatever you order, you too will be surprised at how great their food is.

The sparkling interior gives you an elegant hipster vibe.  The subtle blue flowers that adorn the overhead light fixtures really create a cool, sensual feeling.

Striations of blue linear lines are part of the overall flooring. Highlighted on one wall is a floor-to-ceiling LED flat-screen TV wall, that is guaranteed to bring in many sports fans for those big-ticket games, with many additional screens both inside and out.

Blue Birdy can accommodate inside seating as well as a front street-level patio and a back patio for more of a secluded experience, it’s the perfect spot for a private party.

There are plans for different themed nights. So far, Tropical Thursdays are guaranteed to get your Salsa on. Friday will be dress-up Drag Night, and Saturday is Shabhaye Tehran-LA. With all of the viewing opportunities, any night or day is a sports theme, but whatever the occasion, Blue Birdy will make your Sunset Strip experience one to remember.

 

One comment on “Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is a Destination Dining Redefining Global Gastronomy

  1. Felix Howell says:

    Wow! Vietnam’s food scene is really growing

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