What's Cooking In... Saigon

By Sandra Scott
This item appears on page 48 of the June 2015 issue.
Chef Hoang Thi Tuyet cooking a pancake — Market 39 restaurant. Photo by Sandra Scott

Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City as it’s been called since 1975 (though both names are used throughout Vietnam), is a bustling city. 

During our January 2015 trip, my husband, John, and I visited the War Remnants Museum (28 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC; http://warremnantsmuseum.com), which chronicles the Vietnamese people’s struggles against invading forces.

While a visit to this museum can be distressing for Americans, we remembered a comment made by our guide when we visited the Chu Chi Tunnels outside of the city several years ago. 

 The finished pancake with a bowl of pickled carrots. Photo by Sandra Scott

When asked about the American War (as the Vietnam War is called in Vietnam) and his perception of Americans, our guide, who had been born in the tunnels, replied, “That was then. This is now. Let’s go forward.” 

More than half of the country’s current population was born after the American War. That war was preceded by 100 years of French colonialism, and before the French there had been 1,000 years of domination by the Chinese. Now the Vietnamese people govern themselves.


John and I arrived in Saigon at the end of our cruise on the Mekong River aboard the RV Mekong Pandaw (www.pandaw.com)

We stayed at the InterContinental Asiana Saigon Residences (corner Nguyen Du and Hai Ba Trung streets, District 1, HCMC; phone, in US, 888/424-6835, www.intercontinental.com)

Our large suite featured a kitchen/dining/sitting room with surround-sound TV. The best part was the washer/dryer. The room rate was $179, but we used our once-a-year free night that came as a perk for using the IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) credit card. 

We had lunch at the hotel’s Market 39 restaurant, which boasted a Vietnamese pancake station. We asked the executive chef, Josh, if he would share the recipe and explain how the pancakes were made. He was happy to do so.    

Sandra Scott can be reached c/o ITN.