Mì Hoành Thánh/Wonton Noodles

This is post isn’t about education or politics.  It’s about something on which most (all?) of us can agree, one of life’s simple pleasures found in a bowl.

wontonIn HCMC/Saigon there is a culinary oasis that specializes in one dish and variations on that theme:  wonton noodles.  It’s a hole-in-the-wall place in District 1 that is usually overflowing with loyal and satisfied customers.  No AC, no clean floors, no obvious hygiene in food preparation and handling, just good old-fashioned noodles with pork, pork rinds, bean sprouts and lettuce in one bowl and wontons in a steaming cup of broth.  Add the condiments and you’re ready to dig in.  Ngon quá!  Delicious!

The owner and chef, the man himself, can often be seen hovering over a hot stove, busily making his wontons no doubt using a secret recipe.  While I’m sure he makes a decent living, it is also a labor of love.  The final product is a pièce de résistance, the ultimate healthy fast food with several of the major food groups represented.

My taxi fare to this noodle shop exceeds the cost of the meal;  THAT’S how good it is.  If you travel to HCMC/Saigon and would like to know where it is is, drop me a line.  I’m not an agent just a satisfied customer and a true believer in excellence, whatever the art or craft happens to be.  If you do intend to patronize this slice of culinary heaven, you’ll need to be able to speak Vietnamese or Chinese, or bring along someone who does.  Enjoy!


What’s in a Name?


As Vietnam celebrates the liberation/fall of Saigon 39 years ago today, 30 April, which signaled the end of the American War in Vietnam and the death knell of the southern part of that divided country known as the Republic of Vietnam, I thought you might be interested in knowing which city was the capital of South Vietnam, according to the  gospel of Google.

Go to Google Search and enter the search terms “RVN”, or simply click on the above image.  You’ll be surprised to learn that it was Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).  In fact, the city’s official name was changed to HCMC in honor of the late President Hồ Chí Minh, in 1976 when the country was unified and became known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  Of course, it is still called Saigon by most; HCMC and Saigon are often used interchangeably.  Even the Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport code is SGN.  Then there’s the Saigon Port.  For foreign journalists and Wikipedia it’s Ho Chi Minh City – formerly Saigon.  For official discourse it’s HCMC only.  You get the picture.

google_dont_be_evilCalling Saigon HCMC in the context of the former Republic of Vietnam is fightin’ words for many Việt Kiều (VK), most of whom have some connection to the RVN and/or the (US) government that bankrolled that client state.  It’s like pouring gasoline on smoldering embers.  I’m waiting for the aggrieved to organize a mass protest at 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043, i.e., Google headquarters, uniforms, medals, gold flag with three (3) red stripes, signs, outrage, bitterness and all.

It’s only six (6) hours by car from Orange County (Quận Cam), home to the largest concentration of Vietnamese-Americans, and a mere 15 minutes away from San Jose, and which ranks 2nd in number of Vietnamese-American residents in the US.  What are you waiting for?  The time to right this wrong is NOW.  Suggested slogan:  Don’t be evil!

Note to the rabble-rousers among you:  You could launch a counter-protest defending Google’s right to list HCMC as the capital of South Vietnam to create even more cognitive dissonance and conflict both on and off of the Internet but you do so at your own risk.  Emotions usually run high at these events and, while VK demonstrators relish their right to freedom of assembly, most don’t take too kindly to others who wish to exercise the same right, especially if they don’t toe the (anti-communist) party line.  (Some VK friends in California who have dared to challenge the status-quo and take minority positions in their communities vis-à-vis the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, including those with an impeccable red, white and blue pedigree inherited from parents or grandparents, can confirm this.)

Happy Reunification Day!  Chúc mừng ngày thống nhất!