The Chopsticks: More Than Just a Restaurant

There’s a rich cultural history and tradition deeply imbedded in Vietnamese cuisine and at The Chopsticks, we like to think that we’re carrying the torch, preserving ancient recipes with modern cooking methods. At our restaurant, we not only like to share the complex tastes of Vietnamese cuisine with as many people as possible, but through unique events like our cooking classes, we aim to continue the tradition.

Vietnamese cuisine is made up of many different components, starting with the development of flooded rice paddy fields in 1000BC, this unique food has been developed over time. The tastes, textures and ingredients all borrow from Chinese influences during their 1000-year occupation, with the introduction of noodles, right up to the early 20th century, where the colonization from the French influenced dishes like pho and banh mi.

At The Chopsticks, we recognize our past, and utilize recipes passed down generations from our ancestors. When you eat at our restaurant, you’ll be dining on the rich cultural heritage of our world-class chefs, who take pride in carrying Vietnamese cuisine into the 21st century. Like our ancestors, we’re always developing, making sure we combine traditional recipes with modern culinary techniques.

Our dedication to history can be found in the almost imperceptible details, which we take pride in maintaining. Take our location for example, once the home of Mr Tran Van Huong, a central figure of Vietnam’s history in the 20th century. Tran Van Huong, twice the mayor of Saigon, twice the Prime Minister from November 1964 to January 1965 and then May to August 1969, and at one point, the Vice President under Nguyen Van Thieu. Huong was the president for one brief week in April, 1975, before the surrender of the government to General Duong Van Minh, also known as Big Minh.

We’ve strived to maintain many of the original features of Tran Van Huong’s home, like the stunning wrought iron gates and windows, the grand garden entry and the sweeping staircase. The building is full of earthy timberwork, and the broad open windows allow for soft, natural light to pour in. With such a rich cultural history surrounding the building, we think that you can feel the presence of the ex-vice president’s many visitors within the restaurant.

We want to go beyond giving you a taste of Vietnam’s finest dishes though, at The Chopsticks, we want our culinary history to spread throughout the rest of the world. That’s why, when we offer cooking classes where we teach authentic techniques and promote shopping with locals at markets. We ensure that anyone attending a cooking class at The Chopsticks will leave carrying a piece of Vietnamese culinary history with them.

The Chopsticks – Best Cooking Classes in Town

Traveling around Saigon you’ll likely fill your pockets with a cornucopia of souvenirs. There are many treasured items you might want purchase to remember the rich history of Vietnam, but few will have the longevity of a cooking class.

At The Chopsticks, we specialize in creating the finest in traditional Vietnamese cuisine, using locally sourced ingredients purchased fresh from farmers’ markets every day and cooked with recipes passed down through generations.

Market visit          

We have two options when it comes to cooking classes: market visit or no market visit. We do, of course, recommend going along to the market. It not only provides a more diverse cultural experience, but also helps you to become accustomed to the ingredients before you start working with them.

Arriving at our restaurant in the morning, we’ll give you a sum of money and a shopping list, and then one of our local experts will whisk you off to the local farmers market. Then the challenge is to buy your whole shopping list within the budget provided, under the guidance of our instructor, picking the finest produce available within the market and haggling where necessary. Once you’ve sourced your ingredients, the next challenge will be to use them in the cooking class.

Cooking class

All of our classes take place in our restaurant’s courtyard, under the shade of our trees and hanging lanterns. We always close the restaurant when we hold cooking classes so we can provide an intimate and relaxed cooking and dining experience. You’ll get plenty of one-on-one time with the professional chef leading the class, with your market instructor on hand to help with translation and advice.

Our world-class chef will guide you through the culinary experience as the leader of this two-hour class, teaching you how to make traditional Vietnamese food from start to finish. The ingredients that you purchased within the market will be all that you need in order to make traditional dishes such as spring rolls, salads, as well as rice, noodle, and meat dishes. Along the way you’ll learn cooking secrets based on generations of tradition that you won’t find in any recipe book.

Participating in one of our cooking classes will help to introduce the benefits of a healthy Vietnamese diet into your life. A traditional Vietnamese diet, before the invention of the deep fat fryer, consisted of nutritious soups, salads, rice, and noodle dishes, packed full of healthy vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins. The true benefit of a meal in Vietnam, however, is the culture that surrounds the occasion. We eat with friends, family and work colleagues, making each meal a social event. Eating Vietnamese food encourages people to be social, taking time to slow down and talk.

All You Can Eat Concept Arrives in Saigon – But How Does It Work?

Vietnamese cuisine is vast, eclectic and unique, where specialties vary through different provinces. Hanoi in know for its Bun Cha, Hoi An for its Cau Lau My and Danang for its vast array of fresh seafood.

For many people visiting Vietnam, this can be justifiably intimidating. You may wonder how you’ll go about trying all of the food that you want to eat, or where to find the best possible version.

Fortunately Ngon Villa have decided to launch their revolutionary dining concept in Saigon, sharing their broad range of traditional Vietnamese cuisine further south of the country.

Up until now, Ngon Villa could only be found in Hanoi, Danang and Hoi An. Due to the overwhelming success of our unique dining style, we’ve decided to share the wealth with Saigon. Ho Chi Minh locals will recognize two more restaurants from the Viet Deli family, Home Finest and The Chopsticks. We’ll be bringing the high standards set within these restaurants to Ngon Villa, using the finest in locally sourced ingredients.

We believe that the unique concept behind Ngon Villa is fundamentally lacking in Ho Chi Minh City. This concept gained a lot of attention in Ngon Villa throughout Vietnam’s three other major cities. This is why we’ve decided to take it further south. Our all-you-can-eat concept gives diners a chance to try as many of our traditional Vietnamese dishes as they like. This is not an all-you-can-eat buffet, however. All dishes will be made to order and brought to the table, making sure you get the freshest meals available.

Ngon Villa sets itself apart from other restaurants by offering the chance for diners to try such a large array of Vietnam’s unique cuisine. Each dish is smaller than your average meal, meaning that you’ll be able to try a larger range of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, at the price of a single meal.

Like our restaurants in Hanoi, Hoi An and Danang, we’ll offer local specialties on our menu that you won’t be able to find throughout the rest of the country, cooked with the usual Saigon touch. To book a table in our newly opened restaurant, have a look at our Ngon Villa website, where you’ll find the prices for our all-you-can-eat menus.

Exploring Saigon: The Neighborhood Around The Chopsticks, Home Finest, and Ngon Villa

While District 3 may only be a stone’s throw from central District 1, it can often feel remarkably different, with a far slower pace, smaller crowds, and a more relaxed atmosphere. Stunning colonial architecture, temples, and parks are placed sporadically throughout the neighborhood, along with a range of shopping options.

If you’re in the area, be sure to check out The Chopsticks, Home Finest, or Ngon Villa Saigon for a taste of the city’s well-preserved colonial architecture and traditional cuisine.

Turtle Lake

Public space is something of a rarity in Saigon and while it might be a little bit of an exaggeration to claim that Turtle Lake is actually a lake, it is, at least, a moderately green, moderately watery area in which to rest. You’ll find this public area to be a melting pot of youth culture in Saigon. Young people park their bikes here and hang around for dates, meet their friends, and play games. All you’ll need to do is sit around and watch the interesting scenes unfold.

Tan Dinh Church

Not only is Tan Dinh Saigon’s largest church, it is also, undoubtedly, its pinkest. Built in 1876, Tan Dinh is a Romanian-style church that reaches 60 metres in height. It has two massive bell towers to ogle, along with Italian marble altars. For anyone that might be curious, the answer is yes. It’s pink on the inside, too.

Temple of the Buddha’s Relic

Temple of the Buddha’s Relic, also known as Xa Loi pagoda, is Buddhism HQ in southern Vietnam, making it a little bit more than your average pagoda. The area itself contains a library, bell tower, a shrine, a room selling Buddhist books, and other rooms with monks. A lot of monks. The pagoda officially opened in 1958.

War Remnants Museum

Much of Vietnam’s history has been strikingly violent, as highlighted by Saigon’s War Remnants Museum. As you might have guessed by the title, the museum is made up of leftover parts from different wars. There are the ‘tiger cages’, used by the South Vietnam government to keep their political prisoners; a guillotine, used by the French and South Vietnam government until 1960; a helicopter, a tank and plenty of ghastly photos of those who suffered by the hand of ‘Agent Orange’. Not for the feint-hearted.

Southern Women’s Museum

The role women have played throughout Vietnam’s history is prominent and obvious. From a matriarch grandma at a family gathering to the significance women played during the wars, the important role of women in Vietnam is undeniable. Learn about all that and more at the Southern Women’s Museum.

Saigon’s Essential Dishes: Savory and Sweet

In Ho Chi Minh City, commonly referred to as Saigon, the food is uniquely its own. Heavy influences from China and a close proximity to the ocean, along with the bustling, fast developing world of any metropolitan area, has created a cuisine of sweet, savoury, rich and delicious food. Here are four must-eats in Vietnam’s largest city.

Ca Kho To Mien Tay

Clay pots are a big part of southern cuisine. Ingredients are added slowly for up to an hour to create a southern style stewed fish, simmering in earthenware pots, absorbing moisture and creating a rich, caramelized sauce. This is classic comfort food in the south and can come with fish, seafood, pork, or tofu. Indulge in a pot of this caramelized fish at Home Finest.

Vit Nuong Lu

Saigon might be far from China, but the Chinese have had huge influence on Saigon cuisine. Roast duck is a great example. Usually Peking duck is what comes to mind, and with a history in China that dates back to the 4th century, it’s no surprise.

These days, roast duck is a hugely popular dish in southern Vietnam, eaten largely as a takeout dish, to celebrate holidays, ancestral worships, and death anniversaries. You can try the traditional duck, with its thin and crispy skin and moist meat, at Home Finest.

Canh Chua Ca Nam Bo

Similar to fish cooked in clay pots, the sweet taste of the caramel in this dish plays an important role. Unlike the fish cooked in clay pots, however, this dish comes in a hearty soup.

A lot of visitors will imagine soup is saved for the winter, but down in southern Vietnam, it doesn’t ever get cold. Not to worry though, this fish soup stays delicious even when the weather is hot, has provides plenty of fresh herbs to keep it refreshing. Head over to Chopsticks to claim a bowl for yourself.

Che Ba Ba

Considering the hot weather in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll want nothing more than to indulge in an ice-cold bowl of che (though you can also eat it warm.) Even though we translate che ba ba to ‘southern sweet soup’ on our menu, don’t be fooled into thinking its something like the canh chua ca nam bo, as outlined about. Che is a popular dessert in Vietnam and the “soup” element is made out of coconut milk. So, if you want cooling down, make sure you check out the che at Chopsticks.

Signature Dishes of The Chopsticks

There are a lot of elements to The Chopsticks that make our restaurant unique. To start with, we’re housed in the former residence of Mr Tran Van Huong, the Vice President of the South Vietnam Government before 1975. We’ve got a range of signature cocktails and a world-class wine-list, too.

What really separates us from other restaurants, however, are our signature dishes. Authentic Vietnamese cuisine has been passed down from generations and made with fresh flavors and quality ingredients. We’re sure there will be something unique and tasty for everybody.

Grilled prawns with salt and chilli

Vietnam has an expansive coastline, which we like to make the most of with a menu of fresh seafood. All our seafood is handpicked every day by our in-the-know chefs, straight from the local market.

Roasted duck with herbs

While it may be also be a famous Chinese dish, roasted duck has become a prominent element to Saigon’s cuisine, along with many other Chinese-influenced dishes. We prepare our roasted duck with the finest local herbs to maintain a fresh, authentic taste that differs to the Beijing equivalent.

Mekong langoustines in coconut flambé       

        

We’re proud of the abundance of eclectic food that we have surrounding us here in southern Vietnam. The Mekong langoustine, plucked straight from the Mekong Delta, is paired with the freshest local coconuts and cooked in a flambé – an authentic delicacy that our chefs take great pride in.

Southern crab hot pot             

   

Eating in Vietnam is more than just a way of filling yourself up – eating is a way of getting together, bonding, and just seeing how your day’s going. No dish brings a group together quite like a hot pot. Our southern crab hot pot uses the finest locally caught crabs and the freshest handpicked vegetables and places it all inside of a simmering pot in the center of your table.

Herbal tofu with chilli rock salt    

While Vietnamese dishes can sometimes be a little meat-heavy, it would be impossible to overlook the power of tofu. Served across the country, from bia hois to upscale restaurants, this vegan/vegetarian staple is the perfect mix of soft and crispy, served up by our tofu-loving chefs.

6 Reasons Why Viet Deli is the Perfect Choice for a Tet Party

When it comes to a Tet holiday party, there are a few boxes that need ticking. Good food and quality drinks are a must. Great atmosphere and suitable spaces are an important bonus. Fortunately, across all of our Viet Deli restaurants, we’ve got the ingredients to throw a roaring and memorable office party.

Here are six reasons why Viet Deli makes the perfect choice to welcome the turn of the lunar new year with your colleagues.

1.     Private rooms of all sizes, from intimate to extravagant

Whether it’s a small celebration with a few close colleagues, a big show of appreciation for business partners, or a lavish romp for an entire company, our restaurants have got you covered.

You can book a party of almost any size with Viet Deli, from the intimate 8 guest rooms at The Chopsticks in Saigon, to larger parties in our 40-guest rooms in Home Moc, Hanoi.

2.     Traditional Vietnamese cuisine

Tet is a Vietnamese holiday so why eat anything but Vietnamese food? We pair traditional Vietnamese cuisine and modern cooking techniques for every dish, with ingredients bought free range and fresh from local farmers wherever possible. You can rest easy knowing that, when you choose a Viet Deli restaurant for Tet, you’ll be served traditional Vietnamese meals, handcrafted by our chefs, drawing upon recipes passed down by generations.

3.     Historic buildings and fantastic décor

           

From the former residence of the Vice President of the South Vietnam Government before 1975 to the beautifully preserved French villas that make up our Ngon Villa restaurants, we take pride in offering the finest in stylish heritage dining experiences. Need photos of your team enjoying the festivities? The Viet Deli restaurants provide the perfect backdrops.

4.     Private floors for large groups

While some of our private rooms can offer functions for up to 40 people, sometimes that’s simply not enough. For bigger parties, you may want to consider one of our many expansive floors for your office party. We’ve got a full range available, from capacity for 55 people in Saigon’s Home Finest, 60 in Home Moc, Hanoi, 40 in The Chopsticks, Saigon, 50 in Home, Hoi An, and 60 in Ngon Villa, Danang.

5.     Expert staff

Any Tet holiday party will have a few concerns surrounding it. If everything doesn’t go just right, you never know what could be in store for you the following year. Fortunately, our expert staff are on hand to make sure nothing goes awry. Thanks to our well-oiled team of waiters, seasoned chefs, and professional planners, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing we’ve got everything covered.

6.     Handpicked wines and expertly crafted cocktails

We’ve got the finest in professional sommeliers and masterful bartenders to produce the best celebratory drinks list around. You can choose from imported wines on our wine list, paired to suit your meal, or a signature cocktail from our cocktail list. We’ve got an innovative selection available, like our signature Saigon at Night or the Legend Coffee cocktail.

Looking for Restaurants for Your Family Tet Celebration?

At Viet Deli, we understand the importance of family during Tet Nguyen Dan. Tet holiday is a time to rid yourself of any bad omens and welcome a prosperous year with the ones you love.

We understand that any mistakes made during your Tet holiday meal would be disastrous, that’s why we’ve got Tet-experts on hand to make sure your celebration is delivered perfectly.

Tradition is of the upmost importance when it comes to a good Tet holiday meal. We believe that any meal at one of our delicious restaurants would make the ideal way to say goodbye to one lunar year and greet the next.

We specialize in traditional Vietnamese cuisine, created with modern flair but by expert chefs that have been nourished by generations of tradition. We’ve combined our chefs’ expertise with fresh, locally sourced and free-range ingredients, ensuring the finest in traditional Vietnamese cuisine.

A mark of any Viet Deli restaurant is the pride we place in our residence. We’ve handpicked locations across Hanoi, Hoi An, Danang, and Saigon for their heritage and style.

Our locations range from the renovated art deco style villa of Home Finest in Saigon, to Hanoi’s Home Moc restaurant, where our expansive floors could accommodate parties of up to 60 people for an extended family celebration.

All of our restaurants come in a range of shapes and sizes, draped in various styles, from the dark, earthly tones and navy hues of Home Finest, to the playful French Colonial colors that make up Ngon Villa’s various locations.

Of course, when it comes to family, no celebration is too big or too small. Fortunately, you can book a party of almost any size with Viet Deli. Smaller family gathering can take their place in our restaurants, which range from 100 guests in Home Finest, to 180 in Danang’s Ngon Villa and Hanoi’s Home Moc.

For a private affair, we’ve got private rooms available from the intimate 8-guest rooms at The Chopsticks in Saigon, to more spacious 40-guest rooms in Home Moc, Hanoi, along with everything in-between.

With room available to accommodate every family size, along with the finest in traditional Vietnamese cuisine, you can feel safe in the knowledge that Viet Deli will see you safely into the year of the pig.

9 Must-Have Dishes to Eat During Tet

Tet holiday, known as Lunar New Year through most parts of the world, is the biggest celebration in Vietnam. When it comes to Tet, nothing brings the family together quite like food, both the cooking and the consumption of it – it is, after all, the main event of the holiday.

You’ll find the whole family rubbing shoulders in the kitchen during the build-up to Tet. The customs of Tet are told mostly through the food, which is steeped in tradition and therefore central to Vietnamese culture during this festive period.

Sticky rice squared cake

No Tet dish carries as much significance as this savory rice cake. The story is regaled across Vietnam each year, often told while the sticky rice cake is being made, which takes some time. Following a victory over the Shang Dynasty in the 17th Century BC, the King gave his 18 sons one year to prepare their best dish, with the winner of the contest to become successor to the throne. His 18th son, too poor to travel in search of exotic ingredients, created two cakes of rice, pork and beans, emulating the sky and the earth. The youngest son won his father’s admiration and went on to become king, with his culinary legacy being celebrated by Vietnamese families every year since.

Boiled chicken

Simply prepared, a boiled chicken acts as a focal point for any Tet meal. It’s another dish that brings the symbolic weight of history and tradition to the table, for a boiled chicken is considered an emblem of purity. The finest chickens for Tet are bright red – a lucky color across East Asia – with smooth feathers and small legs. You’ll find many well decorated chickens out on display in family’s altars, with roses or trimmed carrots in their beaks.

Braised pork

Given the significance of food during the Tet holiday, cooking tends to take a lot of time, but it is a labor of love and always a worthwhile investment. Take the sticky rice cake for example; hours of work go into perfecting the dish and the braised pork is no different. With hours spent covering it in herbs and spices, braised pork is gently cooked over the course of a day to become extra tender and indulgent.

Fried spring roll

Though not exclusively reserved for the Tet holiday, these crispy bites make for perfect finger food, but they also serve as an ideal side dish during the Tet holiday dinner too.

Salad

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the table at Tet can be a little heavy on the meat and somewhat lacking in the vegetable department. Fortunately, no Tet dinner would be complete without the traditional Tet salad, which incorporates plenty of traditional Vietnamese herbs and vegetables and, yes, more meat.

Vietnamese sausage

A Vietnamese sausage is undoubtedly a unique creation. A little different and a little surprising to anyone expecting a western style grilled sausage. Made from lean pork, potato starch, garlic, ground black pepper and fish sauce, the sausage is ground down into a patty and wrapped in banana leaves as an embodiment of all that is delicious and Vietnamese.

Soup with pork skin

For this unique dish, dried pigskin is left to soak in water, before being put in the refrigerator from anywhere between eight hours and three days. The skin is then removed and left to boil with an assortment of vegetables, such as cabbage or bok choy.

Soup with softened bamboo and pig’s trotters

So, you’ve used the skin, but you’ve still got the trotters lying around, that’s fine, there’s another soup that will be perfect to make the most of your pigs. While it may seem unusual to some, Vietnamese cuisine traditionally uses an array of ingredients, where nothing – especially from an animal – goes to waste.

Momordica cochinchinensis sticky rice (a.k.a Xôi Gấc)

You’ll be able to spot Xoi Gac easily due to the distinctive red color. The Gac fruit may have found its way to dinner tables around the world, but it was first discovered in Vietnam. The tradition of eating sticky rice with this bright red fruit is subsequently an absolute must for Tet.

What is The Chopsticks?

Designed and created with a passion for Vietnamese street food, The Chopsticks brings to Saigon a mix of tradition and modernity; all created using the finest in fresh products. When eating at The Chopsticks, you’ll find that our a la carte menus provide the best in Vietnamese cuisine, with signature dishes including crab and coconut jus hot pot, char-grilled chicken, and herbal tofu with chilli rock salt. Our combination of authenticity and originality create the perfect Vietnamese dining experience.

We’ve housed ourselves inside the former home of Mr Tran Van Huong, the former Vice President of the South Vietnam Government before 1975. Many of the original features of the house have been maintained, including the beautiful wrought iron gates and windows, along with the garden entry, sweeping staircase and earthy timberwork.

This stylishly decorated home is embossed in natural hues, with intimate dining areas and large rooms across each floor, where long tables are met with personal enclaves to provide the ideal seating for every occasion. There are private rooms which can accommodate 8 guests each, along with private floors that can be occupied by up to 40 guests, making The Chopsticks the ideal place for a stylish get-together.

As an authentic experience when traveling Vietnam, many tourists enjoy attending cooking classes to bring back the ultimate souvenir: The skills to replicate this fantastic cuisine at home. At The Chopsticks, we provide diverse, fresh ingredients to help you on your way to making nutritious salads, rice and noodle and meat dishes. These classes are led by our world-class chefs, who love to share their culinary secrets, teaching you how to shop at local markets and demonstrate how simple it is to make this fantastic, diverse cuisine back at home.