So normally I write about my walks and the places I see, perhaps share some photographs of those places. I did have an interesting day today and visited a museum and a palace here in Ho Chi Minh City.
There is something else I want to write about and its food. Food on the road. You can imagine in Vietnam or Japan or Hong Kong, that there are restaurants galore. I have to say in Hanoi there was never a lack of places and I am finding my way around Ho Chi Minh City and there are the places as well. But I can only eat so much Pho or Bun Cha or noodles or sticky rice. My system craves something else. So every so often, I must cheeseburger and fry. Its not terribly difficult finding those places. In Hanoi it was S&L Diner. I met the American owner a few times there and we discussed eating in Hanoi and how the ex-pats and travelers visited. Unfortunately it was not always a positive sum game for him. I guess no matter how much you do, there is always someone who wants more.
But way back in Chennai I had a place too called Sparky’s Diner. It was a wonderful mix of food and the chef Thom coming out and talking with the guests. Lemonade was bottomless, the shakes were good, and the place had old signs all over the walls. As you walked downstairs it was like instead of getting out of the auto you had instead entered some kind of time machine and found yourself in a typical American diner.
Here in Ho Chi Minh City I found Chuck’s Burgers. I went tonight and it was everything I could expect. Great burgers and fries! I crave this sometimes I tell you. I have to have a burger and French fries. Why? I don’t know. I think that no matter how far I’ve gone there is still a stub left in me crying out for that one food that I truly love. I can eat local foods at street food stalls, restaurants, small places that only do Pho or Banh Mi. I love all that stuff. But it comes down to wanting a thing.
Like tonight it came down to desiring no steamed rice and veggies and stuff. I wanted the basic cheeseburger the way I like it. I don’t like Mayo or super secret sauces. I like the burger with tomato, lettuce, dill pickle and onion. I like the Fries all crispy and I want a thing of Catsup that will douse them liberally. Then I want to feel like its not a stretch for the place I choose. The fine folks at S&L in Hanoi always made the food the way I asked for it. Thom sadly now deceased knew that the grill in Chennai was an ex-pat and traveler favorite and cooked the same way. The Chucks Burgers guys in Ho Chi Minh City are the same. Its that understated thing with a burger and fries. You are not looking for some kinda big statement. Its that diner fare that satisfies and leaves you happy.
I don’t need it all the time or even most of the time but I know when I do. Its that feeling that a bowl of Pho or Bun Cha just won’t do it. I am craving that food. That one food which I can always find at a place like Hong Kong or Tokyo or Vietnam or Chennai India.
If you vagabond the world, sometimes you need the thing that takes it back home. Maybe just for that one 30 minutes to an hour and the owner from S&L would stop by and chat about eating and food and his happiness at bringing American food to Hanoi. I have the same feeling from Chucks Burgers. Its the case where the burger is just a thing but its the feeling it invokes that makes it more.
Now I’m back in my home stay and my tummy is happy and I feel that tangible satisfaction from giving in to that urge that comes over me for that burger. Another one is Pizza. I will find a good place to do Pizza because Vietnamese people simply love to eat! I had my favorite place in Hanoi for Pizza too. Not often but sometimes after walking and then sitting at Hoan Kiem Lake, I knew.
And that’s the best thing. Food brings the world closer together and I can find that one typical diner dish so common in America. And find the place where the people love to bring it, love to talk about it, love to see people eating.
Thanks to all the places that have fed me. But tonight I am in my happy tummy spot thanks to Chucks Burgers.