Vietnam eateries become star attractions among world celebrities

By Tam Linh   December 12, 2019 | 06:16 am PT
Eateries serving traditional Vietnamese cuisine have bowled over visitors from all walks of life, from backpackers to world leaders.

Cuc Gach Restaurant

Obama walks out of Cuc Gach restaurant after an hour-long dinner. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Former US President Barack Obama leaves Saigon’s Cuc Gach Restaurant after an hour-long dinner. Photo by Ngoc Duong.

Cuc Gach, a countryside-inspired Vietnamese restaurant in Saigon, welcomed former U.S. President Barack Obama and his First Lady Michelle for dinner last Tuesday.

Their dinner included typical local delicacies including stir-fried Tonkin jasmine flowers with garlic, stewed pork, spring rolls, and Vietnamese sour soup.

Cuc Gach Restaurant. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Cuc Gach Restaurant. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Cuc Gach Restaurant, on Dang Tat Street in District 1, strives to create a rustic yet sophisticated ambience with its décor and traditional Vietnamese furniture.

It has earlier been patronized by A-list Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Backstreet Boys.

Prices start at VND85,000 ($3.7) a dish.

In May 2016, U.S. President Obama had a relaxed dinner with the late chef Anthony Bourdain. They ordered a combo of a bun cha portion, a seafood fried roll and a Hanoi beer in a restaurant on Le Van Huu Street in Hanoi's Hai Ba Trung District.

A bun cha is a big bowl of savory, sweet and sour fish sauce with meatballs and thick pork slices served with a plate of white vermicelli.

10 Ly Quoc Su Restaurant 

[Caption]President Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-sook (left) and their staff had pho with beef for breakfast. They ordered the special version (VND150,000 =$6.5) that has more high-quality beef in larger quantity than an usual portion. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook (left) enjoy a beef pho breakfast with members of his entourage at the 10 Ly Quoc Su Restaurant in Hanoi. A bowl of pho here is priced at VND150,000 ($6.5). Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook started their last day of their Hanoi visit last year with the iconic pho (rice noodle soup with beef or chicken) at 10 Ly Quoc Su Restaurant on Hoang Minh Giam Street in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District.

Its soaring popularity around the globe has seen pho enter the English lexicon, being listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Former US President Bill Clinton’s historic visit to Vietnam in 2000 also included a bowl of delicious pho at the Pho Co Restaurant near the Temple of Literature in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh District. In Saigon, the former President and First Lady had pho again near the Ben Thanh Market in District 1.

Banh mi on the street

Turnbull ate the banh mi sitting on a sidewalk stool. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull enjoys a banh mi, sitting on a sidewalk stool. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.

When Vietnam hosted the APEC summit in Da Nang in November 2017, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull grabbed himself a VND10,000 ($0.43) banh mi from a street vendor.

Banh mi, a Vietnam street food that has acquired global fame over the last few decades, is a baguette stuffed with anything from grilled pork, chicken, cold cuts, and cucumber slices, and spiced with cilantro, pickled jicama and carrots, liver pâté, and chili sauce.

Turnbull and chef Luke Nguyen, an Australian of Vietnamese origin, bought the sandwiches while taking a stroll, and enjoyed a typical local experience, sitting on the sidewalk. 

Tib Restaurant

Former US President George W. Bush, Laura Bush and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his wife Janette Howard dined at Tib resturant in November 2006. Photo courtesy of Tib restaurant

Former U.S. President George W. Bush, Laura Bush and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Janette Howard dine at the Tib Restaurant in Saigon. Photo courtesy of Tib Restaurant.

In November 2006, former U.S. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush dined at Tib Restaurant with former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his wife Janette Howard.

The visitors feasted on pincers, jackfruit salad, lotus seed soup in coconut, shrimp cakes, and lotus seed tea. The restaurant has since placed these dishes onto a separate menu named after Bush.

Tib, located on Hai Ba Trung Street in central District 1, is a vegetarian friendly place serving dishes that originate in the former imperial capital of Hue. Its cozy, elegant ambience is suitable for receptions and gatherings.

Prices range from VND20,000 to 180,000 ($0.87- 7.8) per item. A Bush menu comes in at about VND300,000 ($13) a head.

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