Visiting Carl’s Jr.

I know lots of friends who went to Carl’s Jr. on its opening weekend.  It’s just the way it is.  As soon as a Western food chain opens, expect the Pinoys to be there.  Incidentally, have you heard the rumor on Starbucks?  I actually read it first in the June issue of The Word HCMC.

According to Ben Chua of the CEO of Starbucks in an upcoming interview in CNBC said that they will open shop in Vietnam in the next 18 months.  I’ll believe it when I see it or have had the taste of my first Java Chip here.  But 18 months is a long time.  We might not be here in Saigon by that time.  It took Carl’s Jr. in PMH some 6 months before it opened shop so I’m not going to get myself worked up for Starbucks yet.

I digress.  Back to Carl’s — it’s right across Annam Gourmet and near the Fuji Film photo processing shop so while waiting for my prints, I decided to hang out in Carl’s Jr.

It’s just their 3rd day so I imagine the crew is still trying to get the hang of things.  Good service though.  I hope this continues.

In the Philippines, when we order something to bring home, we say “For Take-out”.  However, for the Vietnamese, it’s “Take-Away”.  I remembered ordering in McDonald’s in Manila and told the cashier, “for take-away”.  She looked at me funny.  I forgot I wasn’t in Vietnam.  Carl’s Jr. decided to use:

The second floor area can be used for parties according to the Mesa Group F&B Deputy Manager (operator of Carl’s Jr. in Vietnam), Mr. James Huynh.  He was there today assisting and was kind enough to answer some of my questions.  The ideal party time is from 2 PM to 6 PM.


It’s not too spacious but can probably seat around 50 persons.  The mirrors helps in the illusion of space though.  With the huge TV, this can be a good place to watch the Vietnamese favorite sport, football!

Unfortunately, they don’t do delivery yet.  But it’s good that they opened shop in Phu My Hung instead of us going to Vincom all the time where there is more temptation to spend more on shopping. 😀

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A Peek into a Vietnamese Painter’s Studio

It was still early when I went to Le Hoang Bich Phuong’s home in District 5 for a short interview that I decided to explore the Tran Hung Dao Street stretch a bit.  When it was nearly time for the interview, I decided to cross the street at the pedestrian lane because there were motorbikes crisscrossing, zipping away along the street and I didn’t want to risk it.  But as I was passing by Phuong’s home, she spotted me.  I waved but I was at the opposite sidewalk!  Seeing that I was having trouble crossing the street, this 26-year old young painter came to my rescue.  I liked her already.

The bubbly silk painter ushered me into her home where her two terrifying black dogs welcomed me.

Her studio is located at the second floor of her home.  Pushed back in one side of the studio is a work table wherein lies the current project she’s working on.

Sitting comfortably on the studio floor, I conducted my interview and she would write in my notebook ever so often because I don’t know how to spell the names of famous artists she was raving about.  I have got to admit I am no expert in the arts.  One of her favorite artists is the 20th century Austrian painter, Eric Schiele whose book is shown on the right side of the photo below.

Phuong is also a children’s book author illustrator.  So envious!  Wish I can do illustrations too so I can create children’s books myself!

She signed me a copy for my son!  Thanks Phuong!

It’s entitled Chu Meo Ham Choi and is about a naughty cat who got sidetracked because of too much play and had to find his way home.  I love the vibrant colors of the illustrations!

Apart from art books, her bookshelves display familiar authors like Neil Gaiman (in Vietnamese)

and my favorite Edgar Allan Poe.

The walls of her home is adorned with her works.  Below is something she did when she was still in school but I really like the strong way the blues were used.

This one reminds me of my sister Ria.

Phuong is focusing in silk painting which takes a lot of patience because it entails a lot of painting-drying-painting method.  Depending on the size, she can finish a work from 15 days to 2 months.

We wrapped up the session after more than an hour and it was really nice meeting Phuong.  She’s heading for Japan by mid-July for an exchange program and hopefully I get to meet her again.

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Carl’s Jr. is Now Open!

Last year, Carl’s Jr. made a debut in Vincom Center in District 1.  Today, Carl’s Jr. opened it’s second store in Phu My Hung, specifically at 50 Nguyen Duc Canh St., Tan Phong Ward.  It’s right across Annam Gourmet and near the Saigon South International School.

I thought it will never open.  Because I first wrote about this last year in December.  Carl’s Jr. took it’s sweet time to open.  6 months!

Anyway, for their grand opening they’re offering a “Buy one Combo, get one Burger free”.  So hurry over to Carl’s Jr. to avail of this 2-day deal (June 18-19 only).  🙂

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Lucky Plaza Closing Down?

Yesterday, I received news from our mailing list that Lucky Plaza along Dong Khoi St. will be closing in 2 weeks time.

I was like, “Noooooooooo!  No freaking way!”

So I just had to go there myself and ask the shop owners.

And yes.  They are closing. 😦

But according to one of the shop owners, Lucky Plaza will be closing by the end of July July 15 (my favorite shop wrote it down for me and even gave me the address to her new place), not in two weeks time.  She even showed it to me on the calendar.  However, don’t take my word for it.  If you happen to pass by Lucky Plaza, do try asking the shopkeepers there.  My Vietnamese isn’t so good, you see.  If I remember correctly, Lucky Plaza opened at the time we arrived in Vietnam in mid-2009.  So, this place is actually just a couple of years old.

Even if I got the closing date wrong, the point is, Lucky Plaza will be closing down to give way to a new building.  The place has already been bought by another group.

Now, the shops don’t have a place to go yet and I’m actually sad that I’ll no longer have this place to visit.  The clothes they sell are affordable and I can actually find a something in my size (as you know the Vietnamese have a slight frame so usually it’s difficult to find clothes for the horizontally-challenged people).

So it looks like — panic buying time for me. 😛

[updated on June 20, 2011]

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Most Filipino kids grew up eating at Jollibee, celebrating birthdays at Jollibee, and even as yuppies would eat at Jollibee.  And when these kids get married, the whole cycle starts again.  Jollibee is one of the most successful food venture in the Philippines that has created it’s niche not only in the market, but also in the Filipino culture.

I actually grew up together with Jollibee having the same birth year which I will not disclose here.  😀  So you can say, the Bee and I kinda grew up together. 😉

When we moved here to Vietnam, although I don’t eat at Jollibee a whole lot, it’s kinda comforting that something from home thrives in the Vietnamese arena — makes you feel that every Filipino can make it anywhere.

As most establishments here in Vietnam, Jollibee is located in a 3-floor narrow building — not spacious enough for kiddie parties. 😦  See how small each floor is?

When we got here in 2009, they were still serving gravy together with their famous Jollibee Chickenjoy.  Now it’s just ketchup or this chili sauce.

But as you can see, unlike in the Philippines, the Chickenjoy here is served with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, and rice topped with onion springs.  Looks healthy, huh?  I personally don’t like the onion springs on my rice so I carefully remove that.  However, the chicken is just like how they make it back home!  Yum!

If you’d like to know, my meal (with regular softdrink) cost me 32,000 VND which is roughly PhP 64.  How much is it now back home?

Jollibee serve sundaes here too and true to the Vietnamese taste, they have a coffee-flavored sundae which I have yet to try.

Jollibee in Vietnam serves Pepsi products only.  Is it the same in the Philippines?

So if you happen to pass by Vietnam and is craving for a taste of good ole Jollibee Chickenjoy, you’ll be happy to know that the Bee has a lot of hives here.

Find Jollibee in District 1 at 194D Pasteur St. or check out their locations here.  They do delivery BUT be verrrrrrry patient. 🙂  Call them up at (08) 38237000.

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Alexandre de Rhodes and Pasteur

Two of the very few foreign-named streets in Ho Chi Minh City.

I pass by Pasteur St. lots of times but it was only today that I was acquainted with Alexandre de Rhodes St.

I know that most streets in Saigon are named after famous generals like Tran Hung Dao, communist party leaders like Le Duan, soldiers like the famous woman soldier Vo Thi Sau, and political leader like Nguyen Hue.

Pasteur St. is named after the French scientist Louis Pasteur who is the Father of Microbiology.  He discovered the processes of vaccination and pasteurization.  That I learned from high school Biology.  But Alexandre de Rhodes is someone I don’t know.  So I turned to the ever-reliable Wikipedia.  Wikipedia states:

Father Alexander de Rhodes (VietnameseA-Lịch-Sơn Đắc-Lộ) (15 March 1591 – 5 November 1660) was a French Jesuit missionary and lexicographer who had a lasting impact on Christianity in Vietnam. He wrote the Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum, the first trilingual VietnamesePortugueseLatindictionary published in Rome in 1651.

Just a dose history for now.

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Food Trip: Little Manila

I am not much of a cook really so regular Filipino food like Nilagang Baka, Sinigang, Kare-Kare, Menudo, Pochero, and Tinola are gourmet meals for me.  But I attribute it more for my being lazy to prepare all the ingredients.  I simply take too long in chopping, dicing, cleaning, peeling, etc.  You get the picture?

Yesterday, my friend Gigi told me that Little Manila has finally found a new home in the Citi Plaza food court at 230 Nguyen Trai St. in District 1.  When we first got here a couple of years ago, Little Manila had a couple of outlets (Eden Mall, D1 and Huong Vuong, PMH) when they decided to close down and focus on catering and delivery.  Now, they’re back and I’m glad because I can finally eat a good, yummy Filipino meal without messing our kitchen.

I was torn between Pork Sisig and Dinuguan but my love for beer pulutan (beer match) won.  Other Little Manila bestsellers include: lumpiang shanghai, tortang talong, beef steak Tagalog, chopseuy, pancit canton, adobong baboy, adobong pusit, beef kaldereta, fried chicken, and paksiw na tilapia. 🙂

I ate my Pork Sisig while chatting with one of Little Manila’s cooks, Roland Verano.  He’s been living in Saigon for 3 years together with his family and incidentally, he came from my Dad’s province in Quezon.  He’s from Lucena while we’re from Unisan.  Kuya Roland is also the Chef Manager at Mexico Lindo in  149 Ton That Dam St., D1.

Do visit Little Manila in Citi Plaza or call them up at 0933490004 or 36007660 for catering services and enjoy a slice of Manila in Ho Chi Minh City!

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