David Archuleta in ‘Nam

This morning while reading the papers, I came across this half page article on David Archuleta!  He’s coming to Vietnam!!!  For an American Idol fanatic such as I, this is great news. 😀

I missed him in Manila when he did a concert together with 2008 American Idol David Cook.

I know, I know his music genre is not really for my age (sssshhh!!!) but if somebody is going with me, I’d definitely like to watch this one.  I don’t think I can stand watching by myself amidst all the yuppies, teens and tweens.

In 2008, the day we bought our first car was the day when the two Davids sang for the American Idol Title.  We actually named our car David in honor of those two.

Archie has a really amazing voice and is such a charmer on stage.  He’s like the boy you’d want your daughter to meet someday.  😀

I’m actually amazed that Archie has loyal followers in Vietnam.  And that like the Back Street Boys, he’d be performing for the two cities of Ho Chi Minh and Ha Noi.

It would be stupendous to watch this concert especially if Cook was around too.  But I’m sure this David will not disappoint.

Catch David Archuleta on:

July 22 – Military Zone 7 Stadium, HCM City (12,000 Tickets)
July 24 – Giang Vo Exhibition Centre, Ha Noi City (4,500 Tickets)

Tickets will be available by the end of the June and costs $10, $20, $55, and $75.

Poster from Idol Music 2011

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Pizza Hut in Sky?

This used to house a coffee/tea shop in Sky Garden found right by the steps leading to Sky Garden 1 along Nguyen Van Linh St.

I’ve been wondering what would be a good shop to replace the old one.  Actually a lot of shops along this strip have opened only to close after 6 months.  The Vietnamese market is pretty volatile these days and is hard on local businesses.  So it was no wonder that the local shop here closed.  And guess what was on the side of this shop?

Looks like this shop will become Pizza Hut.  Project completion date on the 15th of July.  Lots of pizza shops here already in Phu My Hung.  There’s Pizza99, Pizza Inn, Domino’s Pizza and some Italian places serving pizza like The Red Tomato and Al Fresco.

I love pizza and all but actually, this place doesn’t need another Pizza Hut.


I feel bad for local business.

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Father’s Day at Hoa Tuc

I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate Father’s Day at Hoa Tuc.

Found Hoa Tuc from the ever-reliable Trip Advisor.  Strange that when I was asking my Vietnamese colleague for feedback on this place, she didn’t know about Hoa Tuc at all.  I guess Hoa Tuc is popular among tourists and foreigners but not with the locals.

Hoa Tuc shares a courtyard at 74 Hai Ba Trung St. in District 1 with several restaurants like Annz, The Refinery, Jaspas, and Vasco’s.

To make sure that we get a table, I sent them an email on reservation a few days before Father’s Day.  They answered on the same day and when we went there, we had a perfectly good, quiet spot at the corner with a nice view of the whole restaurant.  We weren’t able to use the baby-chair already set-up because my son fell asleep.  A waiter gave us a folded table linen to use as pillow.  That was nice of them!

As it turned out, I didn’t have to reserve because I think this place is busier during the weekdays.  So I had a terrific time taking photos!

The purple color theme is inviting and makes you want to sit for hours by the courtyard.  Hoa Tuc literally means “Opium Poppy” and this theme was executed from the menu, to the seat cover designs, and to the paintings on the walls.

We ordered an appetizer and 3 main courses.  Our appetizer was the banh khot or the mini rice and coconut milk pancakes with shrimps and spring onions.  For the main course, we ordered:

  • pan fried tofu with lemongrass chili and shallots
  • marinated bbq red snapper with sauteed green beans carrots and water chestnuts
  • bun thit nuong cha gio (forgot the English translation!)

Terrific food!  The banh khot was creamy — creamier than the 2 banh khot I tried for the past 2 days!  The tofu was heavy though and we could have done away with another main dish.

Maybe next time we’ll just do their Weekend Brunch special at 235,000 VND per person which includes a fresh fruit juice, 7 dishes, dessertS (yup many desserts!), and your choice of tea or Vietnamese coffee.  Brunch happens from 11 am to 4 pm.

And if you want in on the secret on how they create culinary masterpieces, why not join their Saigon Cooking Class?  Hoa Tuc offers a half day gourmet tour and a hands on cooking class.

Visit Hoa Tuc at 74/7 Hai Ba Trung St. District 1.  Email them for reservations at hoatuc@gmail.com.


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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 Vietnam720.com 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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