Saturday, February 2, 2013

The modern invasion - Chain restaurants / coffee shops

As Vietnam grows and modernizes it also starts to have more and more chain restaurants / coffee shops. Yes that can be seen as a unwelcome invasion to all the people wanting a unspoiled country but to me it is a sign that the people are starting to enjoy some of the rewards of their labour. Yes it is more complicated than my simple explanation but I will leave that up to others to discuss.

When I go to Vietnam I also take time to taste the new tastes that the people are eating in the form of fast food and coffee shops. As these mainly foreign restaurant chains come into Vietnam they sometimes modify their menus and recipes to appeal to the Vietnamese market. Here are some I tried:

1) Lotteria a burger and chicken restaurant from Japan.

This was the first fast food chain I ever tasted in Vietnam and it was a life saver for a white guy who missed a  taste of a burger and the convenience of a fast food place. Yes it was a bit different than home but after a few months of eating Vietnamese food I needed a burger. You would think I would like their beef burger the most but it was their shrimp burger that I loved.

I have gravitated to another place for my shrimp burger but Lotteria was my first.

2) KFC  yes the chicken place we all know; I took my future wife here years ago to have a taste of North American food (yes not the best example). I have to say the chicken was better tasting than our fast grown variety but the rest of the meal was the same as in Canada. From that first location we saw years ago, I have seen the chain expand at a fantastic rate right across Vietnam.

3) Pizza Hut We took a few of our younger Family members to Pizza Hut to have a taste of home; of course they liked the non North American tasting pizza rather than the one we liked. The place had some different appies and salads but mostly the same as here. The big thing I noticed that a large pizza there would be considered a small here; we ended up ordering a lot of appies to fill the gap.

4) BBQ chicken a Korean place with great chicken and shrimp burgers; had to go there twice for the unique taste. The bbq chicken was great tasting but my wife thought it was not as good as their smoked chicken; tangy and slightly spicy.

   And they had a great shrimp burger that is now my favorite one in Vietnam.

5) Trung Nguyen coffee shops, a Vietnamese company that makes kick ass coffee that would walk the dead. I love the taste and the shops. I use to frequent Highlands coffee but agree with my relatives that highlands coffee is a weak version of the strong brew Vietnamese like to drink. This is not to say that Highlands coffee is not a good place to go as they have a wide assortment of delicious drinks and food besides the coffee. The perfect mix of Trung Nguyen coffee (as formulated by my brother-in-laws' wife) is number 5 coffee (a blend) with the S type (strong flavour).  As we had some weight restrictions I brought back some of their G7 instant coffee that is pretty good. I should have tried the weasel coffee but never got around to it as it was expensive.

6) Burger King  saw it but did not go there.  

7) Mochi Sweets  a Japanese sweets company with to die for sweets. 

I had this good

8) Laughing cow cheese (yes not a restaurant) this has been a staple of mine since I first traveled through Vietnam as it is everywhere and keeps without refrigeration. It is also a favorite of the Vietnamese and their children. For a cheese lover like myself it was a welcome treat when I craved a bit of cheese and crackers before bed time. 

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