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US food blogger brings lesser-known Vietnamese dishes into limelight

Mark Wiens sits down at a restaurant on Vo Van Tan Street in a busy corner of downtown Ho Chi Minh City after ordering some grilled beef in piper lolot leaves.

“Bo la lot,” he repeats after the chef lady in Vietnamese that is almost perfect for a first timer.

A screen shot from Mark Wiens' video of him trying "banh khot" in Ho Chi Minh City, when he puts the piece of crispy pancake on top of raw leaves before rolling it up and dunk in fish sauce. On top the cake is coconut milk.

A screen shot from Mark Wiens’ video of him trying “banh khot” in Ho Chi Minh City, when he puts the piece of crispy pancake on top of raw leaves before rolling it up and dunk in fish sauce. On top the cake is coconut milk.

He lays out the feast, examining everything from the pieces of peanut on top of the sausage-like rolls, a side dish of raw vegetables and some red chili that has been chopped into tiny pieces.

Then he rolls everything up in a piece of rice paper, dunks the roll in a small bowl of fermented fish sauce, and takes a big bite.

Now you have to wait for him for 30 seconds as he makes a delighted face, and he will tell you how the combination tastes and what more is in there.

Wiens, a Thailand-based American food blogger, visited Vietnam last year and has uploaded nearly 30 such videos of the foods he tried, mostly in Ho Chi Minh City.

He has blogged about all of Vietnam’s most popular foods like the iconic noodle soup pho, the big round crispy pancake banh xeo, and all-in-one baguette banh mi, but his favorites are not so well-known to outsiders.

Bo la lot is one of them.

“It has a real smoky flavor that makes it so good. And then being able to wrap it in rice paper and combine it with more herbs and chilies makes it even better,” he said in an email.

The 29-year-old was born in Arizona, the US, but spent his childhood moving from France to Congo to Kenya with his Christian missionary parents before returning to the US for university.

His mother is Chinese-American and his grandfather was a Chinese chef, which he said makes him gravitate towards Asian foods.

“We definitely have some roots in food.”

After he graduated in global studies, he traveled to South America and then around Southeast Asia before coming to Thailand, where he met his wife.

He started blogging seriously in 2013 with him and his wife traveling most of the time for the purpose. His wife Ying Wiens does the filming.

He is now uploading two videos every week on his YouTube channel, each providing viewers details about the foods, the atmosphere, how to eat, where to eat and how much it costs.

Nearly every meal includes an abundance of vegetables, which not only play an important role in flavor, but also in texture”

What possibly makes Mark Wiens the perfect flood blogger is he looks for places frequented by locals and eats the foods the way they do.

That’s how his videos in Vietnam reach out well to both Vietnamese and foreigners.

His videos manage to highlight some main principles of Vietnam’s food culture, like the habit of creating combinations.

His other favorites are two of the best examples of that mixed cuisine.

One is bun rieu, a vermicelli soup with a mix of seafood flavors that tastes best when eaten with various fermented and sour sauces, and com tam suon, which is broken rice with grilled pork chops, meatloaf, shredded pig skin, omelet, scallion oil, and pickles.

In his blog spot about the best foods he tried in 2014, when he also visited Hawaii, Tokyo, London, and Myanmar and traveled around Thailand, he listed chao vit, which is congee served with braised duck and a plate of herb salad, and oc, which is an exotic street food with snails and herbs.

I just can’t get enough of the street food culture in Vietnam, and how dining on the sidewalk in the midst of action is such a common part of daily life”

Wiens said his biggest impressions about Vietnamese food are the prolific use of fresh herbs and the street atmosphere.

He said the first thing that comes to his mind when describing Vietnamese food is how well it utilizes fresh herbs and fresh vegetables.

“Nearly every meal includes an abundance of vegetables, which not only play an important role in flavor, but also in texture.

“And I just can’t get enough of the street food culture in Vietnam, and how dining on the sidewalk in the midst of action is such a common part of daily life,” the blogger, who has tried restaurants along busy streets, banh khot pancakes in the middle of a wet market and omelet baguette in an alley, said.

Wiens said in his banh khot video that he loves it more than its bigger, more popular version, banh xeo.

“I would love to return and try more food. I would especially like to get into more regional and coastal Vietnamese food, and anything that includes seafood.”

The blogger recently published an eBook guide about the Vietnamese food he ate in HCMC that is available for download for free.

 

 

 

 

 

Source: thanhniennews.com

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HCM City war museum named among top 10 in the world

HCM CITY — The War Remnants Museum in HCM City has been named among the top 10 museums in the world by travel website TripAdvisor, the only one in Asia to make the list, Nhân Dân newspaper reported.

The War Remnants Museum in HCM City. — VNS File Photo

The War Remnants Museum in HCM City. — VNS File Photo

The ranking is based on the 2018 Travelers Choice Awards for Museums in which award winners were determined by an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for museums world-wide.

Musee d’Orsay in Paris tops the list followed by the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London, and Prado National Museum in Madrid.

Founded in 1975, the War Remnants Museum is a unit under the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

A member of the World Council of Museums, it is a museum for thematic research, collection, storage, preservation, and display of the materials, photographs, artefacts on the evidence of wartime consequences faced by Việt Nam.

The museum has more than 20,000 documents, exhibits and films, of which more than 1,500 items have been on display at eight exhibitions frequently. It is one of the most visited sites in the city.

The museum is located at 28 Võ Văn Tần Street, District 3. Tickets cost VNĐ40,000 for adults and VNĐ20,000 for children aged between six and 16, and free for children under six. — VNS

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French architectural influences linger in Hanoi

The French colonized Vietnam from 1873 to 1954, with Hanoi becoming the capital of French Indochine in 1887. While the old quarter was left intact as a distinctly Vietnamese part of the city, the French reworked much of the rest to create a European-style city.

Hanoi Medical University, now at 1 Ton That Tung Street, is the oldest university in Vietnam. It was founded in 1902 by the French as the Indochina Medical College. File photo

Hanoi Medical University, now at 1 Ton That Tung Street, is the oldest university in Vietnam. It was founded in 1902 by the French as the Indochina Medical College. File photo

The Hanoi Opera House, located in the heart of the capital, was built by the French colonial administration between 1901 and 1911. Photo: Ngoc Thang

The Hanoi Opera House, located in the heart of the capital, was built by the French colonial administration between 1901 and 1911. Photo: Ngoc Thang

The National Museum of Vietnamese History, located at 1 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Hoan Kiem District, was built in 1910 and redesigned between 1926 and 1932 by the architect Ernest Hébrard. The museum's exhibits highlight Vietnam's prehistory up to the August 1945 Revolution. Photo: Hieu Cong

The National Museum of Vietnamese History, located at 1 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Hoan Kiem District, was built in 1910 and redesigned between 1926 and 1932 by the architect Ernest Hébrard. The museum’s exhibits highlight Vietnam’s prehistory up to the August 1945 Revolution. Photo: Hieu Cong

Long Bien Bridge, originally called Paul Doumer Bridge, is a historic cantilever bridge across the Red River that connects Hanoi's current districts of Hoan Kiem and Long Bien. The bridge was built in 1899-1902 by the architects Daydé & Pillé of Paris, and opened in 1903. Photo credit: Micheal Ruan/Zing

Long Bien Bridge, originally called Paul Doumer Bridge, is a historic cantilever bridge across the Red River that connects Hanoi’s current districts of Hoan Kiem and Long Bien. The bridge was built in 1899-1902 by the architects Daydé & Pillé of Paris, and opened in 1903. Photo credit: Micheal Ruan/Zing

Chu Van An High School was established by French authorities in 1908 as High School of the Protectorate. It is one of the oldest institutions for secondary education in Indochina. File photo.

Chu Van An High School was established by French authorities in 1908 as High School of the Protectorate. It is one of the oldest institutions for secondary education in Indochina. File photo.

St. Joseph's Cathedral, built in 1886, serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi for the nearly 4 million Catholics in the country. Photo: caravanviet

St. Joseph’s Cathedral, built in 1886, serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi for the nearly 4 million Catholics in the country. Photo: caravanviet

St. Joseph's Cathedral. Photo: HADAO

St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Photo: HADAO

Source: thanhniennews

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About Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City to launch 1st Vietnam Fruit Week next week

Different kinds of Vietnamese fruits will be displayed and put on sale to promote the tropical country’s produce during the first Vietnam Fruit Week, scheduled from June 1-9 in Ho Chi Minh City.

 A file photo from Ho Chi Minh City's Suoi Tien Theme Park's website shows fruits displayed as entries for a fruit contest as part of the Southern Fruits Festival held at the park in District 9 last year.

A file photo from Ho Chi Minh City’s Suoi Tien Theme Park’s website shows fruits displayed as entries for a fruit contest as part of the Southern Fruits Festival held at the park in District 9 last year.

The event will be held at many hotels, supermarkets, markets, and stores, according to the city’s Tourism Department.

Local residents and tourists will be able to learn more about safe fruit traders while experienced chefs and bartenders will get creative with local fruits.

Supermarkets will offer at least seven kinds of fruit with up to 40 percent discounts, including Co.op Mart, Co.op Xtra’s, SatraMart and Satrafoods.

The Suoi Tien Theme Park in HCMC’s District 9 will host the Southern Fruits Festival.

The event also aims to raise fund for farmers and their families who are affected by saltwater intrusion and drought in the Mekong Delta.

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