Celebrity chef relives Obama's street food experience in Hanoi

By VnExpress   February 12, 2017 | 11:15 pm PT
Celebrity chef relives Obama's street food experience in Hanoi
A photo on Anthony Bourdain's Instagram shows him and Obama at the bun cha eatery in Hanoi.
Anthony Bourdain shared the excitement of his $6 dinner with the then president.

The Hanoi bun cha shop that hosted Barack Obama in May last year has been thriving ever since, with many people sitting down to eat with pride, shock and curiosity.

But did it really impress Obama himself?

Anthony Bourdain, who selected the restaurant and accompanied the then U.S. president, described how incredible the experience was.

“I have never seen anyone so happy to be drinking beer out of the neck of a bottle, sitting on a low plastic stool eating what was essentially street food classic in Hanoi with chopsticks,” Bourdain said in a recent New Yorker Radio Hour interview.

Bourdain said he was permitted to choose the restaurant, although the White House would have preferred a hotel banquet.

Huong Lien, the destination selected, was a beloved family restaurant near Hanoi's Old Quarter that serves bun cha, a combination of grilled pork patties, cold dipping sauce, fresh vegetables and rice vermicelli.

As a working-class venue, the restaurant was not particularly clean or fancy, but “it was a uniquely Hanoi thing,” Bourdain said.

They drank the local Hanoi Beer straight from the bottle.

The restaurant itself did not know who was coming at first, but hundreds of locals gathered on the streets outside that night trying to catch a glimpse of the president eating a $6 dinner.

Obama was the third U.S. president to visit Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War, after Bill Clinton in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2006.

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