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Missed connections are inconvenient, but you just gotta learn to make lemonade. When our Japan Airlines flight out of Ho Chi Minh City was delayed several hours, we inevitably missed our connection in Narita. This turned our layover into an overnighter. Initially, we contemplated buying a Narita Express ticket into Tokyo but soon learned Tokyo was not as 24/7 as New York City. We decided to stay put in Narita, opting for a short cab ride to downtown for a quick bite at McDonald’s. (I always like to see how

To heck if I know. I had banana wine for the first time on this trip to Vietnam when Kyle Le took John and me to eat goat. My guess is it’s fermented banana juice. It was very mild with only a hint of banana. I personally prefer my alcohol more robust. Always happy to try new things, though. Our Vietnam trip was winding down, and the hubs and I tried to get in as much last-minute trying of new things as we could. From high-end sushi to goat breast

Perhaps my busiest day in Saigon was the day I had three back-to-back events to attend. In the morning, I had the launch and signing of the Vietnamese translation of my cookbook, Nau Bang Ca Trai Tim, which translates as “cook with all your heart.” (Yes, the Vietnamese publisher changed my title entirely to make it more suitable for the Vietnamese audience.) Then in the afternoon, I stopped by a university to promote my popcorn line, Uncle Jax and do a photo op with the students. Lastly, a meeting with

This travel vlog is a perfect demonstration of how Vietnam today is at the intersection of the old and the new. We’ve got a man pan-frying crabs in a wok on the sidewalk, cigarette dangling from his lips, sandals on his feet. Then across town, we’ve got teenagers making ice cream using liquid nitrogen. Vietnam is an emerging market, and this is apparent when you visit. Why I love Vietnam: iKem. My family has a liquid nitrogen ice cream shop, and I get to exercise my culinary creativity by creating

We enjoyed our Danang food tour with Lena T. so much that we invited her back the next day to hang out in Hoi An. We rented motorbikes again and rode all the way from Danang to Hoi An, which was about a 45-minute drive—not bad, except that your back and butt will hurt by the end. I had a lot of expectations for Hoi An since I’ve had two friends tell me on separate occasions that it was their favorite town in Vietnam. My pops described the old town,

For a quick getaway, the hubs, BIL, and I took a weekend trip to Danang, a relaxing beach town in the central region of Vietnam, where the streets are less crowded, the air breezier—a welcomed change to the sticky, saturated streets of Saigon. We hit up the beach in the morning, located right across the street from our hotel. Because most Vietnamese people prefer to be out of the sun (fairer skin indicates higher social status, as in you’re wealthy enough to not farm the fields yourself), we pretty much

YouTuber Kyle Le was the official winner of my Saigon food guide contest, but I couldn’t resist reaching out to another couple who had submitted an entry video. Pinky and Chuck (their self-selected English names) are a young, vibrant couple, and the hubs, the BIL, and I spent an afternoon snacking around HCMC with them. Pinky and Chuck took us to eat banh xeo (turmeric and coconut crêpe typically stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts), goi con (summer rolls), and a snack shop serving small bites often frequented by

It was my bro-in-law’s first time to Vietnam, so naturally, I took him to the Lunch Lady so he could have the quintessential Vietnam street food experience. Both he and the hubs loved the noodle soup, which happened that day to be bun Thai—Thai-style rice vermicelli with seafood. As a first-timer, the BIL was also taken to Ben Thanh Market where cheap goods abound. It’s not my favorite place, but it’s usually a must-see for first-time visitors. The BIL loves noodle soups, so that evening, we have it again; except

Before coming to Vietnam, I ran a contest for a food guide in Ho Chi Minh City, and the winner was Kyle Le, a Vietnamese-American YouTuber now living in HCMC. As expected, we did a lot of food-hopping, from chao via (duck congee) to banh con (steamed rice rolls, which I should add is John’s favorite Vietnamese dish) to (cuc chien bo (butter-fried quail). For the record, the duck congee with offal was excellent, the rice rolls were pretty fantastic, and the quail was decent, except for the fact that

Second day in Saigon: food, signing my newly translated cookbook, and more food. Family lunch today had us venturing outside the house into the crazy crowded streets of Saigon. We dine at a well-known rice vermicelli restaurant, and I pick up some bad-ass banh mi for afternoon snacking at home. Besides pho, I’d say bun thit nuong and banh mi thit are the most well-known dishes in Vietnamese cuisine–they’re what people try when first being introduced to Vietnamese food. Growing up, grilled pork was more often eaten with broken rice

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