The layover- Ho chi Minh City- 3/9/12 - 3/12/12

Day 1- 48 hours

Day 2 - 28 hours

The final hours

Have you seen the new show by Anthony Bourdain called the Layover?  For those of you who are not familiar with Anthony Bourdain, he is a famed American chef and author who traded his apron to be a seasoned traveler around the globe many times over.   He is known for his hard drinking and for consuming exotic ethnic dishes all over the world. The concept of the layover is simple!  It is essentially Anthony Bourdain making the most of a city in 24 to 48 hours as if he were the victim of a rescheduled flight which give him time to kill in some of the world’s biggest airport hubs and he sets out to explore each city in the short amount of time.

So I am taking the same concept as Anthony Bourdain since Hoa has exactly 48 hours to kill in Ho Chi Minh City before heading to Chennai for work.

In the 48 hours, Hoa will be drinking, eating and meeting up with friend and family.  Let's start the count down.

Day 1 - 11:00AM -The arrival -Tan son Nhat airport - Time remaining:48 hours

Getting off the plane at Tan Son Nhat airport.


12:00PM -Lunch in Ho Chi Minh City - Time remaining: 47 hours

Thuan (Hoa's brother) picked him up at the airport and drove him directly to restaurant for lunch time.


Lê Hiếu, is a Vietnamese singer famous for having a unique voice.




Ca kho to (Fish cooked in earthen pot), Dua Muoi (pickle mustard green), Rau mung sao (Sautéed Asian spinach)

This is a very typical Vietnamese meal!

Ca Kho To, Dua Muoi, Fried soft tofu, and Rau Mung Sao.



La Mo (special leave) with sausage and fried liver.


Traditional Vietnamese sour soup with tomato and dill.


Another soup with clear broth and some type of roasted meat.  Hoa can not remember what it is.


Sriracha, fish sauce with fresh chili, and ginger garlic sauce.

The trip from San Francisco to Vietnam is about 24 hours including a stop over in Hong Kong.  It is a long trip but knowing that the next two days will be spent with friends, and family makes the trip worth the effort, plus a great lunch does help to start the day.


7:00PM - Dinner with Friends - Time remaining: 40 hours

Meeting up with Vu Be, and Duy for dinner.


Thuan, Hoa, and Vu Be.

Tonight they choose Cuc Gach quan (meaning a brick ). 

This restaurant has soared to the top of Saigon’s restaurant scene at the moment.  Apparently, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt ate here the last time they visited Ho Chi Minh city. 

The sign on top of the entrance said architect office of Tran Binh (The restaurant is owned by architect Tran Binh).  Opened since 2009 and in the short 3 years the restaurant already acquired a large number of clientele, both Vietnamese and foreigners. Binh choose the name Cuc Gach because he felt that a brick is a small object but when put together it can become a wall, then a house or other significant construction project. So it short a brick is a strong foundation for success.

The entrance of the restaurant.

Cuc Gach's logo on main entrance door.


The restaurant is described as a countryside restaurant set in a French colonial house which combines architecture, design and traditional Vietnamese cooking.

Entering Cuc Gach felt like going into a house that is artfully designed.

The space is very special evoking traditional Vietnamese family atmosphere in a French era villa.

The decoration and set up is is very unique.

Cuc gach serve excellent traditional Vietnamese local food. The emphasis is on fresh local ingredients with a home made vibe.

Cuc Gach is a high end Vietnamese restaurant but if you look carefully at this picture you will notice that the plates and bowls are all chipped.  Yes, the restaurant serve all their food on old chipped earthenware plates and bowls because they represent and symbolize the image of the countryside during economically harsh times.  Binh, the owner make it a point to use old earthen plates and bowls and will continue to use them until they are broken.

This is a good spread of food.

This is fresh pineapple juice, freshly squeezed.

Hoa and Duy.

Next.. Day 2



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