Christmas Shopping at Albetta!

It’s 9 days till Christmas! Are you done with your Christmas shopping? Check out Albetta!
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Their top quality products are too hard to resist, I tell yah! And I’m pretty sure you’d find the perfect gift for your little one here.

You can shop at their outlets here in Ho Chi Minh City at:

District 2
32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien Ward, D.2 HCM

District 7

58 Nguyen Duc Canh, Tan Phong Ward, D.7 HCM

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Our friends from Sense Asia have worked hard for the past 9 months to present the best teas sourced only from local Vietnamese farmers. photo Picture4_zpsf54dd9ba.jpg

“We have carefully chosen the best teas from local tea farms of Vietnam and turn All Country in One Box with our Premium Tea Collection with 32 varieties of tea. We create the most exotic, curious and healthy gift from Vietnam. So every person in the world can try different kinds of Vietnamese teas, choose which one he likes and share with friends.”

 photo Picture2_zpsb2bf7060.jpg Beautifully packaged, these are perfect gifts for Christmas for love ones and friends. And yes, they are TEA-rrific gifts for friends abroad!

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You can get a box of 32 different teas or with variants of 4 and 16.
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Teas are sourced from different cities and provinces of Vietnam including: Ho Chi Minh, Ha Naoi, Ha Long, Sa Pa, Hue, Nha Trang, Da Lat, and Phan Thiet.

 photo TeaCollection_All_02_zps223d95d0.jpgYou can also choose to have a box of all 16 with North Vietnam flavors or South Vietnam flavors. It’s like choosing your palate adventure. :)

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I have always hoped I’d visit Hue before we go home to Manila but in case we didn’t, I’m glad I got a taste of what Hue farmers offer. From the Hue Premium Collection, they have the Blue Rose Tea, Imperial Hue Tea, Oolong, and Pu-erh.  Each tea shows the caffeine content, and being one who tries not to get too much caffeine, the Pu-erh and Imperial Hue Tea were perfect for me!  photo Picture1_zps52cc3bf4.jpgGo ahead and give your friends a  taste of Vietnam by ordering your box today! Cap off your holiday dining with a relaxing cup of tea! ORDER NOW!

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Ready for New Year 2015?

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Photo Oi Photo Booth Changes Owners

Back in 2012, with a couple of friends, we decided to venture into Photo Oi Photo Booth. Photo booths are the in thing in Manila where we came from. Actually, it has been “in” for 5 years or so but hasn’t really caught on in Ho Chi Minh City.

Fast forward to 2014, we have just let go of our booth to equally talented and passionate local owners. photo 1795284_818732488191339_6021415782232620174_o_zps14c06779.jpg

It was a great run. We learned a lot about establishing a small scale business in Ho Chi Minh City while enjoying running the business with partners who have become lifelong friends. And we had great fun!  photo 10365471_818728608191727_6234522333501519767_o_zpsb6945cd1.jpgOur decision to let go of the business was based on our personal circumstances that there will be some movement within the team to move outside Vietnam. So before that fateful day happens, we had to make sure that the business we love will be continued to be run by a capable team.

Photo Oi will continue to be of service in Ho Chi Minh City and who knows, you might see it elsewhere in Vietnam! ;)

Please book with them today to bring that extra oomph to your event!

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Food Trip: Ole!

When in Saigon, you should definitely try out authentic Vietnamese cuisine but… I have to admit, Saigon is also a gastronomic center of international dishes. And a week ago, Katrina introduced me to Ole! — currently #6 in Tripadvisor.
 photo 20141127_122455_zps4274cbc8.jpgBeing Filipino, I am no stranger to Spanish food. In fact, most of our local dishes are adopted Spanish dishes. Upon entering Ole!, it was actually like coming home.

 photo 20141127_122652_zpse69c4614.jpgWhen eating out with Katrina, I usually defer to her food choices. :P We had the croquetas, chorizo, and the fideua. I miss paella but the fideua was delicious and wasn’t too heavy on the stomach. One order of Fideua is good for 4 people! Kat and I couldn’t finish it!
 photo 20141127_122851_zps360ca1bf.jpgAppetizers

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 photo 20141127_124006_zps7dafc52a.jpgMonica serving the chorizo

 photo 20141127_130443_zps59bd5454.jpgMixed Fideua

 photo 20141127_130728_zps9d76cbec.jpgChef Tony and his wife, Monica are very visible in Ole! Such a warm couple!

Craving for some home-cooked Spanish meal? Ole! is a must visit!

129B le Thanh Ton, Phuong Ben Nghe, Q.1,
Ho Chi Minh City

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7 Drinks You Should Try in Vietnam

By guest blogger, David Demartin

When visiting Vietnam one of the things that you should never miss is their simple but delectable drinks. The country is famous worldwide for their cuisine so it is not surprising that they also offer must-try drinks. Since Vietnam is a humid and hot country most drinks have cooling and relaxing effects.
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Nước Mía (Sugar Cane Juice)
 photo sugarcanejuice_zps881ada36.jpgIt is a famous drink sold on every street of Vietnam. This yummy treat is freshly squeezed using an electric squashing machine. Surprisingly it is not as sweet as you would expect it to be. The drink is usually served with Calamansi, a tiny sour lime found naturally in Southeast Asia. Sugar cane juice is not only delicious but also rich in electrolytes and antioxidants to fight dehydration. You will find sugar cane juice vendors everywhere, advertising their goods openly on the streets. They usually have buckets of sugar cane stalks displayed in the front of their stalls. The best sugar cane juice can be found on Cách Mạng Tháng Tám Street in Tân Bình District and along this way to District 3 in Saigon. An easy way for you to find sugar cane juice vendors is if you notice where there are schools, universities, markets or parks, etc., sugarcane juice vendors never are far away!

Rượu Nếp Cẩm (Vietnamese Sticky Rice Wine)
Rượu nếp cẩm literally translates to northern glutinous rice wine. The wine is made using sticky rice that is fermented with yeast. The wine will contain as much as 29.5% alcohol. In Vietnam drinking wine or other alcoholic drinks is more of a masculine activity. Men gather in groups to drink a glass or two of this wine after a hard day of work. When trying this out you can ask for snacks like barbequed meat or seafood which compliment the drink wonderfully. The best rượu nếp cẩm can be found in the North of Vietnam, and Hà Nội the capital, is famous for this drink.

Dừa Tươi (Fresh Coconut)
Coconut water has always been a popular drink in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia. In Vietnam you will not see coconut milk packaged like the ones you see in grocery stores. Coconut water is served straight from a coconut with the vendors chopping the fruit once you order it. Generally smaller coconuts tend to be sweeter than larger ones. You can find the best coconut juice vendors which are near Hoàng Văn Thụ Park and on the street with the same name in Tân Bình district and near Tân Sơn Nhất international airport.

Nước Sâm (Ginseng Tea)
Ginseng tea in Vietnam is one of the most loved drinks. It has a sweet and nutty taste, and is usually served to compliment rice dishes. Nước Sâm usually consists of locally found ingredients like nettle leaves, grass roots, sugar cane, and corn silk. Some variations can also include other local ingredients such as dried longan, roasted water chestnuts, and spiky cilantro. You may find many street vendors with metal stalls wherever you go. However a shop located at the corner of Tạ Uyên – Dương Tử Giang Streets (district 11) has been famous for this drink for more than 20 years.

Nước Rau Má (Pennywort Juice)
 photo pennywortjuice_zps97367b48.jpgPennywort is a member of the carrot and dill family. In reality this drink tastes more like cucumber water and is served in most restaurants throughout the country. This drink will keep you hydrated under the humid Vietnam weather while you are touring the country. Finding this drink is just the same as locating sugar cane juice street vendors. The best place to go is wherever there is a crowd, particularly schools, universities, markets, around the parks…

Sâm bổ lượng (Cold Sweet Soup)
 photo sweetsoup_zps4d6b129a.jpgSâm bổ lượng is originally a Cantonese dish but it has become so famous in Vietnam, using the same original ingredients that are also readily available in the country. The recipe may vary from city to city, but most often it contains dried longans, Job’s tears, thinly sliced seaweeds, water, sugar, and crushed iced. As this drink originally comes from China, obviously the best place to find it is the Chinese district of Saigon which is located in District 5 on Châu Văn Liêm street or Nguyễn Trãi street, and some street vendors on Hồ Thị Kỷ street and Sư Vạn Hạnh street in District 10.

Cà phê (Coffee)
Never leave Vietnam without trying their one-of-a-kind coffee. Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of Robusta beans. Coffee is served with a small metal drip filter over ice and condensed milk. The black one is called “cà phê đen đá” whereas the brown one (with condensed milk) is “cà phê sữa đá”. There are many places where you can find the best coffee around Vietnam or you can easily try to make your own. It is said that when it comes to local food and drink, you should go wherever the crowds is. For most young Saigonese, they usually get together at the corner of the park on Hàn Thuyên Street which is across from Notre Dame Cathedral (Nhà thờ Đức Bà), District 1.

Traveling to Vietnam is a feast of experiences, culture, sights and taste. One word of caution, most of these drinks are served with ice. Most experts will tell you to avoid taking anything with ice when in Southeast Asia, but today most of the ice served in restaurants and street stalls are manufactured using the safest standards. Most expats and foreigners living in Vietnam regularly have these drinks or indulge in the typical local way of drinking beer with ice, and do fine. To have a complete and thorough experience while visiting this country, try these unique drinks through a street-food tour with local guides that will drive you to the safest and tastiest spots/.

David Demartin is a Spanish expat living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The day he arrived to Vietnam, he knew he would not be going back to Europe. Passionate about all things Vietnamese, from food to martial arts, he loves to show the city he lives in to travelers that are interested in Vietnamese culture and ways of life. Read more about his experiences in Go Vietnam!

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Food Trip: Toilet Kingdom

We were browsing through the Word magazine when we saw an article about the Toilet Kingdom. Intrigued by the feature as well as a similar restaurant in Japan we’ve seen on TV, we decided to try out the Toilet Kingdom here in the city.

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And boy was it far from our home! We thought we’d get lost going to this part of the city as we don’t really venture far from our home.

 photo 20141121_111633_zps959b0e6a.jpgWith a toilet seat for a sign, it was definitely hard to miss.

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Good thing all the girls agreed to go and so we had a roaring good time laughing at the furniture and the tableware.

 photo 20141121_111855_zps4df2001a.jpgThis was the waiting room. The seats were actually comfortable.

 photo 20141121_111932_zps9bd4e4b8.jpgTrue to the theme of the place, there were tiled benches and showers.

 photo 20141121_112328_zpsbb65b3a2.jpgThe King Toilet in the menu doesn’t seem so bad, don’t yah think?

 photo 20141121_112836_zpsfcaf9b11.jpgMy lemon juice tasted real good. I was worried that with it being served in a urinal would affect the taste :P

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Tea was served in a toilet seat. It was actually very sweet according to my friend…and let’s not start about how it looked like. *shudders*
 photo 20141121_114528_zpsfa88e074.jpgSince we arrived around lunch time, we tried their lunch menu which wasn’t extensive compared to the desserts, juices, and smoothies.
 photo 20141121_114723_zps408df4d5.jpgWe ordered spring rolls served on a urinal and mi xao bo on a bath tub.

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I went to the other part of the restaurant and saw this —
 photo 20141121_122303_zps057e10ae.jpgRafa was not too happy with the place. LOL. He just woke up in this photo.

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If you decide to go, focus on the desserts, smoothies, and their specialty drinks. The food was actually just so-so.

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But we did have a real fun time enjoying the theme of the place! ;)

Toilet Kingdom
29/2A Duong D2, Phuong 25,
Binh Thanh District, HCMC

098 866 16 73
7 am to 11 pm

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