HCMC Dining Guide

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I've come to realize recently that working for a magazine can be a pretty sweet gig. Sure it can be frustrating having stories fall apart at the last second, forcing us to scramble for a replacement, but I get to review a restaurant every month, and that entails a free three- or four-course meal. This past week was particularly, um, perky.

On Thursday I met with an Australian guy named Travis Fallon who runs a high-quality butcher shop out in District 7, the only one of its kind in all of Saigon, to do a profile piece on him. After talking for a bit and taking a look around the store I mentioned that I wanted to buy some bacon, since it looked quite good and the kind they sell in supermarkets here is pretty poor. Travis simply gave me a pack free of charge.

On Saturday the 2012 New Zealand Wine & Food Festival was held at the Riverside Apartments in Thao Dien.
This annual shindig celebrates all things Kiwi from the food and beverage worlds. Entrance tickets cost $60, and normally I wouldn't have even considered going to such an event. AsiaLIFE, however, was one of the sponsors so I got a free ticket. Upon arrival you exchanged your ticket for eight drink and four food coupons. One ticket got you one glass of wine, or a lamb burger, etc.

And considering how good that food and drink was, this was an amazing deal. There was a big drinks tent that featured over 25 different kinds of wine (red, white, shiraz, etc.) and a type of wheat beer called Moa that was simply fantastic. I know practically nothing about wine, but everything I tried was solid.
The food was provided by some of the city's top hotels, and everything was delicious. New Zealand lamb was a prominent ingredient.

The lamb burgers from the Duxton were a big hit. I had two.
Lamb pita. I forgot to take a picture until I had almost finished it.
Lamb spring rolls.
I had more fun than I was expecting to at the festival, especially considering that I only knew four people there. I was very nearly the only person there in my age demographic, outside of the Vietnamese wives and girlfriends of fat, balding, old rich white men. White children were frolicking about; teenage girls gushed about like, that totally like hot guy at school, like OMG!; and businesspeople talked about...business. I felt like I was back in the West, and I felt more than a little out of place because a lot of the festival-goers were pretty wealthy. Three cheers for free stuff!
Bonus picture! Took this one of the skyline a couple of weeks ago.

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