Food Trip: Nara Thai

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Saigon Centre + Takashimaya have lots of restaurants now. So exciting! And my friend and I tried, Nara Thai. We’re big fans of Tuk Tuk so we wanted to check how Nara Thai would fare.

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Prices here are more expensive than in Tuk Tuk but it was expected in such location.

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We had the usual Thai red iced tea. As soon as we tasted it, we were ready to write off Nara Thai. Seriously. It was bland. We had it taken back to be remixed. Not sure if that’s their usual recipe but have been going to Tuk Tuk and Koh Thai (their iced tea’s are yum!) and Nara’s didn’t compare.

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But…. came the green curry… and the fish….

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Okay, so we’re coming back. Hahahaha!  Absolutely delicious!

They have an extensive menu but not all were available yet. They don’t have the mango salad with catfish which we enjoy. Hopefully they’ll get there. And fix the iced tea too.😛

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Dessert Heaven

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Apparently if you want to get to dessert heaven in Takashimaya, you have to go down their basement.

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The gods of sweets converged at the pit of Takashimaya and plotted to make everyone load up on calories. Yup, there are savory dishes here as well but totally eclipsed by these desserts.

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And because I have low EQ, I emerged from the chocolate pit with a bag full of goodies.

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I’ve been curious about Cheesecake Ngon for a long time but their shop is quite far from my place. So I was quite excited to see it in Takashimaya.

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I would like to take my sponsor, Tita Bing who got my boys, Manuel and Sam this cheesecake for their birthday this August.

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Just your classic, no frills melts-in-your-mouth cheesecake. Truly delicious!

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Seriously, you can’t get away from the sweets. They’re all over!

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And if you’re a fan of the cakes in 4Ps from Star Kitchen — well, they’re here too!

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There’s macarons from TWG or you can head on inside Annam Gourmet too!

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Craving for sweets? You know where to go.

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Saigon Centre + Takashimaya

Before Saigon Centre’s reopening this year, I’ve only visited it twice (in 7 years). But looks like I’d be visiting it more often now with it’s new and improved shopping experience.

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It felt like going to Shangri-la in Manila.

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I liked that they opened with almost all their shops already operational. And as expected from articles I’ve read, there are a number of new shops and restaurants.

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In the Takashimaya side, high end clothes and bags are displayed unencumbered. In Crescent Mall, Runway is behind closed glass doors — which actually discourage shoppers  to check it out. If it’s caged, it must be way beyond your budget. So why bother going in, right?

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Had to take a photo of Under Armour to show hubby, as he has been looking for an outlet for a while.

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I got excited by Annam Gourmet Market. Bought some tea here.

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Finally, TWG in Vietnam.

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But it was the macarons, not the tea, that excited me.😛

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There were 7 flavors available today.

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Because my friend wanted to buy something from Minh Long, we went in.

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Only their best stuff is here.

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Dropped by Lladro next door and was in awe with their products!

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A 34MVND chandelier. It’s beautiful IRL.
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In Saigon Centre, the restaurants are all in Level 5. The usual suspects are there like Thai Express and Pepper Lunch. But there’s a place called Asian Corner where you can go in and several Asian restaurants share the same space.

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It’s actually pretty nice inside although, according to my friend, it can really get crowded during the weekend.

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Lots of space inside so I wonder what it’s like during the weekends.😛

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If you’re craving for Japanese cuisine, there’s another area with several Japanese restaurants sharing the same space too —

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Thinking of coming back for some carbs here though in Pizza Logic but there are a couple more of pizza places here.

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But yeah, they’ve got McDonald’s too.😛

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And if you’re hoping for some shopping time minus your kids, you can drop them off at Tini World or Little Einsteins.

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So there, just a quick look see of Saigon Centre + Takashimaya. If you’re going to shop for something, it’s definitely a place to visit. No cinemas here though so it’ll be mainly for shopping and eating.🙂

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Pokemon Go Craze in Vietnam

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So Pokemon Go became available last August 6 in Vietnam but since I’m one of the older generation (LOL), am not sure how it’s faring except through the news:

In Photos: Pokemon Go Craze in Vietnam
Death by Pokemon: Public safety fears mount in Hanoi
Vietnam begins experiencing the dark side of Pokémon GO

It’s pretty popular in my home country and friends have been exchanging tips on how to play the game. But me? I really have no clue. I know of Pokemon but have not followed its evolution from comics to TV series to games. There are card games too, right?

So anyway, just got curious and checked the game out. Am currently on Level 6 without doing anything much — I mean, I don’t really go around.

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Home

As you can see, it’s no fun in playing this at home. Even if I walk for 2 kilometers, there’s nothing here. It’s a deadzone.😛

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Crescent Mall

I was able to try it once when we ate dinner at Crescent Mall and it was teeming with people playing the game.

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Pokestop

Since I don’t go out of my usual routine, I just rely on whatever I can find nearby.😛 I found out that the Hard Rock Cafe is a Pokestop. So you can hang out there or the nearby Starbucks. Me? I had lunch at The Dots.😀

 

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Pokestops Galore

Lots of Pokestops at downtown District 1. And that the Post Office has two Pokestops and the Notre Dame Cathedral is a gym. It didn’t feel right playing there.  :P

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Near my bus stop is a Pokestop.

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Gym

I only rely on whatever I can find on the way to the office and back. Haha. There’s a lot of Pokestops along Nguyen Tat Thanh in D4 but ends before you get on the bridge to D7.

So anyway, have fun with Pokemon Go! Let’s see when this craze will fizzle out.😛

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My 2016 Favorite Vietnamese Places to Dine in Saigon

I realized it’s been a while since I wrote My Top 10 Places to Dine in Saigon. Some in the list are still my favorite but will give it an update since it has been 4 years and the fact that some friends are visiting and am jogging my brain where to bring them. Actually, I haven’t been going around much with most of my foodie friends having moved to different countries. But hey, these are still my favorite places I’d bring visiting friends.

Hum Vegetarian Restaurant

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If you’re vegan or vegetarian, Hum is one of the best places here in Saigon. But hey, even if you’re not a fan of vegetables, give this restaurant a try. My mom who never eats vegetables enjoyed this place too. Now every time she visits, I bring her here so she can load up on fiber.

There are 2 locations for Hum. One is at 32 Vo Van Tan St., District 3 (+84 8 3930 3819) which is housed in a 2 storey home turned restaurant while the other one is a proper restaurant which can accommodate big groups at 2 Thi Sac St., District 1.

Cha Ca La Vong
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I super duper love this Hanoian dish. Cha Ca La Vong is a fish dish cooked in fish oil with dill. Really good to be paired with rice noodles, peanuts, and crunchy rice or shrimp crackers.

Cha Ca La Vong restaurant in Vietnam usually serves just this one dish so don’t expect anything else. I recommend Cha Ca La Vong at 36 Ton That Thiep, District 1 or at Nguyen Van Linh corner Pham Van Nghi St., District 7.

However, when in Hanoi, Cha Ca Thang Long is the best place to try this dish!

Co Ba Vung Tau

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For traditional Vietnamese cuisine, Co Ba Vung Tau is a terrific place to try ’em all. I enjoy their banh khot, banh xeo, spring rolls, goi cuon, and their salads.  Affordable too!🙂

Hoa Tuc

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For a fine dining Vietnamese cuisine experience, I’d recommend Hoa Tuc. And if you’re keen on trying your hand in cooking Vietnamese dishes, their Saigon Cooking Class is a great way to start.

It’s a bit expensive though but the food and ambiance will not disappoint.

Lunch Lady

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If you’re like me and easily get swayed by what famous people try in Vietnam, then you have got to visit the Lunch Lady. Actually “lunch lady” is the term given to all those selling strictly lunch dishes around Vietnam. There’s one at the corner of my office building who only serves one dish alone, 5 days a week for 68 cents.

So anyway, the claim to fame of lunch lady, Nguyen Thi Thanh is being featured by Anthony Bourdain in his show No Reservations. Thanh serves only one Vietnamese dish a day.

Cuc Gach Quan

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For me, Cuc Gac Quan still tops my list of the perfect restaurant to enjoy Vietnamese cuisine. The ambiance partnered with the oh-so-good food is worth every dong.

Hoang Yen

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Hoang Yen has lots of restaurants but I still go to the one in Zen Plaza. But, must try is their Premium Buffet in Bitexco — a bit pricier but the addition of seafood to their standard menu is worth it.

So if you’re not sure what food your visitors like, Hoang Yen buffet is your best bet.

 

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7 Years

July is our anniversary month here in Vietnam. And just like that, 7 years have past since we first called Ho Chi Minh City our home. A lot of our friends have gone back to their home countries or moved overseas or found a different job.

So many changes.

Right in our neighborhood, the Lotteria at the corner of our apartment complex closed. It has been there since we moved here 7 years ago and in it’s place now stands one of my favorite restaurants, Cha Ca La Vong.

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It opened maybe last month and it’s only now that we’ve gotten to eat here.

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After eating at Cha Ca Thanh Long in Hanoi, I was quite disappointed with the cut of the fish but it’s still absolutely delicious.

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After a quick lunch, we dropped by this new fruit shop made up of container vans —

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It looked really nice. But hubby pointed out that this may not be the best site for this business and mustn’t get too attached.😛

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The fruits are fresh and you can also coffee from here.

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Not too sure what this year will bring but am sure HCMC will continue to surprise us.

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It was a beautiful afternoon today.

Decided to go for a quick walk to Notre Dame to light a candle for my mom who underwent an eye operation today. Still waiting to hear news though. Hopefully, all will be well.

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Good afternoon, Saigon!

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