Sunday, July 31, 2005


I met a couple from Auckland a few weeks ago through some of my friends in a bar. They are cool and friendly. A few weeks later they found their own apartment. They were glad to have a stable place instead of staying in a hotel. They seem to love Vietnam.

When their house warming party happened, they prepared a simple but great party with nice food; great atmosphere and everybody felt at home. Most people who joined the party are teachers; from England, Australia, New Zealand, American and then there was me-Vietnamese!

We had a few different conversations and most of my friends were surprised about my country and they said Vietnam is improved and has changed really fast in the last few years but still heading in the right direction. Vietnam is a nice, peaceful place to live. Vietnamese people in general are friendly even though there are some differences between both ends of the country; maybe because of the language or maybe something else, and the service is better in the south.

Foreigners seem to enjoy living in Hanoi because of the tradition of the old quarter, the lakes and the old cute coffee shops. Of course there are so many traditional dishes that they love to try. Some western people who come to Vietnam for the first time are concerned about the food quality. They are scared that eating on the street is dirty or might lead to some disease. After a few months they usually realise how good the food from the street is. They change their minds after a few times trying food on the street and in a small restaurant. I am so glad when whoever comes to Vietnam, tries our food, enjoys living here, brings the new ideas to Vietnam and understand and love our culture. What is better than if you are able to exchange culture and learning about new thing? Most of my friends know that I am so proud of Vietnam. Yes, I am. I would love to stay in my country to help and show people how beautiful Vietnamese culture is.

Thanks to Liz Lowerson for the beautiful picture of Vietnam.

Summer Lotus in Viet Nam

If you ever think about Vietnam, a symbol that comes to mind is the Lotus flower. This flower represents the virgin, the pure beauty of Vietnamese women. This time of the year is Lotus season. People can be seen selling pink and white lotuses on the street or you might catch them growing in a pond in the countryside. Most people who sell them are from the country side. The lotus is just an amazing flower with heaps of meaning which even the Vietnamese don't really fully understand .

You might spend 15,000 Vnd for 10 lotuses at the beginning of the season but almost half that 15 days later. They make your house look special.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

All New and Great

One of the new restaurant that everyone wants to come now is Wild Lotus, If you just look from outside it likes other restaurant because of a very simple doors with nice stairs go up and floating flower around the reception hall. But when you get into the 2nd floor then your eyes will rolling around non-stop, because of the great decoration with many small special details that you can’t imagine that how the Vietnamese owners can make it as great as it is.
Yes, people call Wild Lotus a new destination for their rendezvous in the evening not only because it’s special, but also because of the nice, friendly staff. Drink and food menus are great. There are some Amazing dishes from which to choose including the following.

For vegetarians, select from Mixed vegetables salad with mushrooms for starter, tempura Cauliflowers, Sauteed seasonal vegetables with garlic for main course.

And for the non vegetarians you can try out Sweet corn & leek soup with crab & coriander dumpling, deep fried spring rolls “Trieu Chau” style, Water spinach salad with star fruit & prawns for starters. For main course you should order pan-fried Nha Trang seabass served with mango & glass noodles salad, Roasted Duck roll in pancake with onion and cucumber, Sauteed mushroom with grilled pork loin, dried chilli & cashew nuts.

To finish off, why not choose some Vietnamese black sticky rice with Thai custard & vanila ice- cream or Sticky rice dumpling with ginger sauce for your dessert.

Wild Lotus owners are trying so hard to make as many new dishes from everywhere in Vietnam as they can almost every month just to satisfy the customers. Some dishes are new and maybe some of the customers cannot get used to them, so that they might not be happy with the food but most people seemed to be pleased.

Please check out Wild Lotus and leave comments in my blog about what you think. Your comments will help other people know about this great dining restaurant. It’s hard to believe that there is such a great amazing beautiful restaurant in Hanoi-Viet Nam, a small developing country. Wild Lotus would not be out of place in Paris or any great food city in the world.

Moon River, about 3km from Chuong Duong Bridge by the Red River, is a place that people willing to go and relax. This is not because it’s been in a show on CNN or because of how beautiful or great the food is. It’s because of the traditional and classic Vietnamese design. Moon River consists of the old house and the garden and 4 guests rooms that took over 2 years to be built. This is a really amazing place, and no wonder the owners are so proud of it.

You can organize a big party for about 200 people or small special dinners from 4 people. You can experience a great peaceful atmosphere. The breeze blows through the restaurant from the river, a fresh country smell that will make your meal memorable. You also can celebrate your wedding or birthday here but it might cost you a bit. It’s worth it just for the beautiful amazing flower decorations, table settings, and of course the food is just delicious.

Start your meal with Shark Fin Soup and Prawn and Banana Fried Spring Rolls, Pan-fried Young Tofu, Fresh Spring Rolls, Saigonese Crepe Cakes, Lotus Stem salad, Grilled King Prawn with Chili & Lemongrass, Crispy Soft Shell Crab in a combination plate. For the main course, consider Steamed Barramundi with Lime Sauce, Pan-fried Eggplant with Peppered Fish Sauce or Stir-fried Bok Choy with Tofu.

If you can fit in dessert, try Sweet Consommé of Longan or Creme Caramel.

The owners do the decorating themselves, because they want to do the best for the customers, to make them satisfied and feel at home. Do not hesitate to ask Mr Thinh or Mrs Trinh for your special request if the staff can’t make you happy?

It will cost you about $100 per night for a double room including breakfast.

You can come here by boat, by car or motorbike.

All you need to do is fax or email them 2 weeks in advance to make a reservation at Moon River. Or contact Wild Rice which is part of the same company.

Wild Lotus
52 Nguyen Du- Hanoi
(84). 04. 9439342
Fax: (84). 04. 9439341

Moon River
Bac Cau- Xa Ngoc Thuy
Gia Lam - Hanoi
(84). 04. 8711658

Wild Rice
6 Ngo Thi Nham- Hanoi
(84). 04. 9438896
Fax: (84). 04. 9436299

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Why people choose Wild Rice for the last meal before leaving Hanoi?

All you can get from Wild Rice restaurant is the best service and great food. This is one of the best dining restaurants in Viet Nam, which is voted by local and global magazines.

Wild Rice has been open for 3 years but for more than 2 years its been the number one in Viet Nam and 60th best restaurant in the world. This is not the only reason that makes it busy all the time, also its the excellent food and the atmosphere. If you come for a formal meeting, they will set up a formal setting but if you come for a party then they will give you a really surprising table setting with gorgeous flowers that the owners do themselves- Mrs Trinh, Mr Thinh and Mr Hoài. He’s the one who has such amazing special ideas about flower layout.

If you want to have your dinner or lunch in a more traditional atmosphere then choose your table inside the old French house. These tables look nice, luxurious and warm against the pinky-brown walls and amazing works of art(pictured above).

The other room that I am going to mention is the room that will make your dinner just different as if you were sitting in New York or somewhere really modern but with bamboo plants outside, fire place and glass walls around looking through to the garden. It’s called the Bamboo bar(pictured left).

You should choose some green papaya and prawns salad and spring rolls which are Vietnamese standards and great tasting for your starter. Then you might order some grilled tuna in banana leaves, some sauteed prawns with peanut and tamarind sauce. And if you don’t mind poultry, then try grilled chicken with chilli and lemon grass or Pan-fried Duck with Pate and Green Pepper Sauce. But don’t forget to order the really special dish called Crispy Soft Shell Crab. Stir fried Morning glory with garlic or Braised Eggplant with Pork, vegetable and Spices is a good choice for your veggies.

Grilled tuna in banana leaves

There are heaps of choices for Vegetarians such as Mushroom Soup, Vegetarian Fresh Spring rolls (Tofu, Carrot & Mushroom) or Cauliflower Soup for starters. Mushroom and Tofu in ClayPot or Stir-fried Egg-noodle with Mushroom are good for main courses.

If you are a big dessert fan then try out the Young Baby Corn “Che” or Young Sticky Rice”Che” or Grilled Banana with Yogurt & Orange Juice Sauce. Ice cream is good here too.

I know westerners do not like to be bothered too frequently by waiters. At Wild Rice, staff are well trained, friendly and respect customers personal space.

You had better make a reservation in advance or you might have to wait for an hour for your table.

Wild Rice

6 Ngo Thi Nham - Hanoi


Fax : (84). 04 .9436299

Email :

Open for Lunch from 11 Am and Dinner from 6 Pm

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Eulogy for Magpie

One day I felt like having a pet at home after my things including my motorbike were stolen from home. Following my staff from Wild Rice restaurant we checked out a few different places, and the last stop was Hang Da market. People showed me some dogs and my feeling was for Magpie and I bought him but I didn’t know that he had Worm Virus that was going to kill him in a very short time. I took him to 2 different hospitals, called a private doctor to come to my house to give him a special care. A week has gone very quickly and I finally had to send him to a very popular Vet in Hanoi called International Laboratory and Veterinary Services in Nghi Tam street. This was also the last place for him to stay over night, then he went to heaven. We got a call in the morning about his death, it was a shock for me! They told me he would be fine in 3 days in a very confident way. I don’t want to blame them but they were made me so happy and the bad thing came straight the next day. I and all my friends in Hanoi loved Magpie a lot. He was a really cool dog with cute face and great character.

We went to Cho Buoi- Grape fruit market to buy a new cute one. His name’s Misa, I hope he would stay with us forever, but he really can’t replace my Magpie.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

My fairy tale holiday in Australia

I am one who always travels with Viet Nam Airlines and love Thai Airways but I will change my mind for my next ever trip because I have just travelled with the fantastic Singapore Airlines. I am so pleased that they started the great experience of my holiday. I was surprised by the way they do in this flight. All flight attendants are so friendly and nice. Food was great and they also served white wine which is my favourite. You can play games, watch movies and of course listen to the latest music. What more would you expect than that?

I had to wait a few hours at Singapore airport, and I couldn’t believe it was so big and modern. I reckon this is one of the best airports in the world and no wonder about how expensive things are. I had a few beers and bought some silly stuff at the airport and did a bit of window shopping. I also tried some food there. The food wasn’t bad and reasonably priced but beers were expensive.

Finally, arrived in Melbourne at 6.00 Am local time, about 3 am my Vietnam time. A warm welcome from Chris, a funny Aussie guy who is my friend’s brother in law, was waiting for me. I spent another 30 minutes in Chris’ car to my friend’s family house. Everybody was there waiting for me, to give me big kisses to welcome me to their house which is so sweet. Liz is my friend’s mother, she is great. She’s so humorous and easy going. Sarah is Chris’ wife; she’s just a lovely lady. She has two kids and they are both gorgeous. I am going to meet Anne in the 2nd week when she comes back to Melbourne from New Zealand for a long weekend. I’d met her before during her first visit to Viet Nam with her mother and she is a nice easy going girl who is an adventurous person. Megan is another of my friends’ sisters who I am going to meet next week. She works as a hairdresser in Anglesea and she’s going to dye my hair.

My idea about houses here was different, I thought that they would be few stories high but they are not at all. I only see these kinds of houses in western film; they are so nice, flat and huge with front yards and back gardens which are lovely and beautiful. Streets are clean with all amazingly coloured leaves that I never ever seen in my life. My friends were laughing at me when I took a picture of the rubbish truck which is new for a Vietnamese guy like me and I think it will on the streets in Vietnam very soon.

Aussies are so friendly, where ever I go and whoever I met that they are nice to me. Am I a nice guy or maybe I am in my best behaviour? We went to the city to have dinner. There are heaps of restaurants but we made a bad choice, the worst Chinese restaurant ever. Food was bad and Chinese staff wasn’t friendly at all, what a shame! Then we went to a really nice luxury, beautiful and huge bar, called the Long Bar in Collins St, with all of the dressed up and character people. We drank beers and chose some finger food – tapas they called it, which was delicious and unbelievably reasonable price. Finally we had a good time at that bar and took some photos there as well - thank god!

I went to my friend’s grandmother’s who is 87 yrs old, really friendly and healthy. She’s still uses a mobile phone to send text messages to her relatives which are sometimes to the wrong person and she has been travelling a lot lately too. I love this old lady. She has been in Viet Nam in 2001 for a short holiday and of course she’d remembered everything where she’s been thru and she talk about that with an excited emotion. She has a boyfriend who is a few years older than her and he seems the world to her. What a classic!

I cooked Vietnamese food at my friend’s house for everyone: spring rolls, tofu and noodles for lunch and then cooked eggplant, beef and rice for dinner. Luckily that everybody was pleased with their meal and it made me so happy.

We went to Milawa the next day to see my friend’s Aunty and his other grandmother who is 96 yrs old. This is the place where they make wine and olive oil, just a lovely place to live for the rest of your life. During our stay, we went to the famous Brown Brothers winery for some tasting and buying, and the amazing Milawa Cheese Factory, which my friend loved but, being Vietnamese, the cheese was too smelly for me! I stayed at a beautiful house, which belongs to my friend’s Aunty - Lois Lowerson and her husband Barrie Fitzpatrick. She uses it as a B&B too and it’s named Balofi and has a swimming pool, 2 double and 1 twin room. She’s just lovely and friendly person, she cooked Indian food for our dinner which was just delicious. I met her husband and her children, they are also really lovely.
We went to Myrtleford and Bright the next morning to visit Nana. The 96 yrs old lady was great. She was talking about everything, and of course remembered what’s happened and who are who and she’s hilarious. We talked for about an hour then I went to the town centre for shopping and sight seeing. Bright is such a beautiful place with beautiful trees, houses and mountains…..

I tried MacDonalds on the way and it wasn’t good at all.

Back in Melbourne, I went to the Wheelers Hill hotel to have a bet on the horse racing, it was great and fun, I went with Mark, his mother Liz and Megan his sister who I met yesterday. She was great and full of humour. She’s an active woman I think and of course she is very friendly with two lovely kids - a boy named Angus and his sister called Myee. They are just nice pleasant people. I won 30 Aussie dollars for the last bet but I also lost a bit before. It was fun and I have tried a new thing and I am so excited about that, not about the money I won, it is the feeling of winning. I am such a gambling guy.

I cooked my Vietnamese food for dinner; sweet and sour ribs and chicken with chilli and lemon grass. I think everybody enjoyed the meal and I am happy for that.

We went to the AFL footy at noon the next day to watch Collingwood, which is my friend’s favourite team, against Richmond at the MCG, which is a really huge and famous stadium in Australia. I got pissed during the match. I actually think that Aussie footy isn’t very exciting for me because I don’t understand the rules but I enjoyed my time there anyway, especially singing the Richmond song when they won the game. YELLOW and BLACK!!!!

We went to Anglesea for a few days, which reminds me of my city Nha Trang in Viet Nam which has white, sandy beaches. We went for a short walk along the beach at Point Addis when we just arrived for half an hour. Then we drove to Lorne along the Great Ocean Road, stopping at the Aireys Inlet Light house on the way. We had breakfast at a café on the street of bacon and eggs. We walked along the beach to the pier to watch the locals fishing, and then we had a quick beer at the pub before going to Erskine Falls. Then we went back to Anglesea to meet Megan, who cut and dyed my hair. After that we went to the supermarket to buy some food before going to Megan’s house. She’s a really good chef. The next day we went to Bells beach which is the most famous surfing beach in the word but unfortunately that was not the right time to see people surfing out there. We went for a walk with Megan’s two dogs down to Point Road Knight for a few hours. We had very good fish and chips, something everybody said I should try. We saw some Kangaroos lying around on the Anglesea golf course. I had such a lovely time with Megan’s children and John. Anglesea would be a beautiful place to live.

We went to the Sunday market and bought some black and white photographs of Melbourne and surprise that I got a beautiful photo from Liz and a Kangaroo from Megan as gifts, I couldn’t believe about that and I love them a lot. We went to the Casino in the evening to have some fun and lose some money. We played Roulette and Poker machines, I was so surprised to see so many Asians and lots of Greek people crazy in betting there and of course not many of them was winning, including me.

I realized that I am so lucky to have made this trip. I met lots of nice people and visit lots of nice places which don’t happen a lot in Viet Nam where I come from.

Do you think I need more than that in a holiday? To have the chance to see all of those great new things is not one that many Vietnamese get.