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Kậu Ba offers seafood with a Cajun touch

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GLITTERING LIGHTS: District 1 by night seen from across the Sài Gòn River, where the Thủ Thiêm peninsula is growing to become the next urban centre. VNS Photos Mỹ Hà

by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

My dining companions said, “Come, we’ll take you to this restaurant with great food overlooking a small canal to get some fresh air.” And so we did.

There’s no city in the country that’s as open and inviting, challenging yet comforting as the bustling Hồ Chí Minh City, where the old and new merge into a spectacular thriving modern metropolis.

CAJUN CLASSIC: Shrimp sauteeed with sweet corn.

Conveniently located in the downtown city’s District 1, Kậu Ba restaurant overlooks a canal, which used to be part of the city’s drainage system.

A recent clean-up and embankment of the city’s canals mean they are now more breathable, and food stalls and cafes have sprung up along them to give this part of the city a refreshing and lively look. 

Kậu Ba serves seafood in a world-fusion style. The restaurant uses the twisted syllable “K” in its name, as the word “Cậu” in Vietnamese means” Little Boy” or “Uncle”, which sounds the same as when it’s written with a “C”.

Owner Nickie Tran used to live in Texas, the US, and still has a restaurant in the Lone Star State. Staff at his restaurant in HCM City said he spent time between the restaurant in Texas and two others in Việt Nam. 

Before our trip to Kậu Ba, I had no idea what Cajun food was or tasted like. A quick internet search told me that it’s a rustic and robust food, popular in Louisiana, a blend of French and Southern American cuisines, with flavours of Native American, African American, and Spanish cuisines. 

Tran has added new localised touches to the cuisine, creating Việt-Cajun.

GOING GREEN: Sauteed asparagus with fresh garlic.

The US is the third largest seafood consumer globally, after China and Japan, and it’s also the top destination of Vietnamese seafood exports.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, after a two-year suspension due to COVID, a large-scale Seafood Expo North America brought Việt Nam’s biggest seafood companies to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center last March. In 2021, Vietnamese seafood exports to the US reached a record turnover of over US$2 billion. 

Seafood restaurants credit the large consumption of seafood in the US in large part to the Cajun culinary tradition.

Cajun food, mostly known for its thick heartiness and spicy touches, was brought to the US by Acadian immigrants from Canada in the 18th century. Originating from French rural cooking, it was adapted by the people who brought it to Canada, then the southern US, with adapted Native, African American, and Spanish flavours. 

The immigrants were driven to change their cooking from seafood off the Canadian coast like lobster, cod and salmon to what was available from the Gulf of Mexico, such as oysters, crabs, alligator, shrimp, crawfish, catfish and redfish. 

Along with seafood, the conventional vegetables of potatoes were changed for rice, and carrots were soon replaced by bell peppers. Other hot-climate ingredients, including cayenne or black pepper, were also added. 

In Cajun cuisine, the holy trinity of onion, celery and green bell peppers is the base of almost every dish. 

At Kậu Ba, we ordered the shrimp cajun-style, which was delicious with plump shrimp, sweet corn and sausages (VNĐ177,000). The dish was great, and the soft white bread that went with it was divine and not what I expected, like a traditional French country bread. 

Next, we ate baked oysters with cheese (VNĐ32,000 per piece). We also ordered sauteed asparagus with garlic (VNĐ110,000), but the vegetables were not at their peak, so we complained and were given more tender buds as a replacement. 

We also had the special Kậu Ba fried tofu in salted eggs sauce (VNĐ99,000) and a fruit salad with special house sauce (VNĐ120,000). My dining companion was so fond of the sauce he could not stop praising it. 

I would certainly come back to try other food listed on the menu out of curiosity, such as the Ôm phản xông ra biển, literally translated as “Hugging a wooden board to surf on the sea”, which is a seared salmon steak with special sauce.

After a full meal by the canal, we ventured further into distant corners of the city. One of our party was a part-time photographer, so he knows every nook and cranny as he has been there to take photos.

The Sài Gòn River at night has a glowing skyline full of buildings, both groovy and quirky and hard to beat for an evening stroll. VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/dining/kau-ba-offers-seafood-with-a-cajun-touch_336765.html

Travel

New products, services needed to reach tourism targets

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To realise the targets of attracting 110 million tourists and earning some 650 trillion VND (27.5 billion USD) in revenue this year, Vietnam is recommended to develop more products and services to offer new experiences to visitors.

New products, services needed to reach tourism targets hinh anh 1Visitors to Hanoi on a bus tour (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi – To realise the targets of attracting 110 million tourists and earning some 650 trillion
VND (27.5 billion USD) in revenue this year, Vietnam is recommended to develop
more products and services to offer new experiences to visitors.

The
VNDirect Securities JSC held that the aviation and tourism industries will
record breakthrough growth from 2023 thanks to the strong recovery of
international markets.

The
number of foreign arrivals in Vietnam is predicted to completely return to pre-pandemic
levels by next year 2024 and be equivalent to 118.9% of the 2019 figure, before the COVID-19
broke out, a year later, the Lao dong (Labour) daily reported.

The
UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recently also forecast the international
tourist number may reach 80 – 95% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

The
Vietfoot Travel company said the country’s tourism sector, including travel and
event planning firms, will have opportunities to bounce back and soon regain
its 2019 growth trend.

Vietnam
welcomed 871,200 international arrivals in January. It targets 8 million foreigners for this year.

New products, services needed to reach tourism targets hinh anh 2Foreign tourists visit the Old Quarter of Hanoi by pedicab. (Photo: VNA)

Despite
a surge in the tourist number since the year’s beginning, the sector is still
facing difficulties and challenges.

Lao
dong quoted General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism
Nguyen Trung Khanh as saying that due to impacts of the global economic recession
and domestic socio-economic changes, travellers’ purchasing power has decreased
and they tend to curb spending on middle- and high-end services.

To
achieve the set targets, many experts recommended the sector develop new products
and services, diversify and improve the quality of services, and increase
experiences to meet tourists’ demand.

They
added travel businesses should also increase communications and promotion
activities, stay updated with market trends, and ensure security and safety of
destinations. It is also necessary to enhance tourism connectivity among
localities to attract more domestic and international visitors./.

Source: https://en.vietnamplus.vn/new-products-services-needed-to-reach-tourism-targets/248002.vnp

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Unique products needed to boost HCM City’s tourism

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Ho Chi Minh City’s tourism sector is continuing to recover strongly and posting many impressive results. The city’s efforts in improving product quality and creating new offerings have given the sector a boost, but limitations remain that need to be addressed for the city to become an appealing destination, especially for international visitors.

In the heart of modern, bustling Ho Chi Minh City, the Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine boasts an older appearance. For more than ten years, the museum has offered an interesting experience to visitors, showcasing a collection of more than 3,000 precious artifacts relating to traditional Vietnamese medicine from the Stone Age to the present.

However, there are few opportunities for visitors to engage in activities to learn about traditional medicine or receive health advice. The museum is therefore not widely known among visitors to the city.

“One district, one tourism product” is the new mantra from Ho Chi Minh City to expand tours and offerings. 20 districts have announced typical tourism products so far.

However, while there are unique and well-known destinations such as Cu Chi Tunnels and various monuments and attractions in the city centre, newly-launched products are only prominent in certain areas. 

Insiders liken travel resources to baking ingredients. Ho Chi Minh City has many ingredients, but there is a shortage of bakers and few ways to make delicious cakes, or unique tourism products. 

Analysts have suggested that the city adopt a clear development strategy and goals and position itself as a must-see destination based on unique offerings and key brand values, so that it is not simply a transit point./.

Source: https://en.vietnamplus.vn/unique-products-needed-to-boost-hcm-citys-tourism/247973.vnp

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HCM City’s tourism products among top unique tours in Vietnam

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As a result of Ho Chi Minh City’s unceasing efforts to diversify tourism products, several has been listed among the top 20 unique tours promising interesting experiences for travellers in Vietnam.

HCM City’s tourism products among top unique tours in Vietnam hinh anh 1Travellers in a Vespa tour in HCM City (Photo: VNA)

HCM City – As a
result of Ho Chi Minh City’s unceasing efforts to diversify tourism products, several
has been listed among the top 20 unique tours promising interesting experiences
for travellers in Vietnam.

The list was announced by the
Vietnam Record Organisation (VietKings) last month.

Among them, a tour gives travellers
a chance to try working as a physician and learn about traditional medicine at
the Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine in District 10.

The private museum, opened by the FITO
Pharma Co.Ltd, features more than 3,000 precious objects related to traditional
medicine of Vietnam, including herb slicers and grinders dating back some 2,500
years, a collection of books with over 100,000 pages in total written in Han (Chinese)
and Nom (old Chinese-like script of Vietnam), and hundreds of valuable
remedies.

Another tour in the list is a dining-in-the-dark journey at Noir Restaurant,
where tourists can enjoy delicate tastes and structures of dishes completely in
the dark with services provided by well-trained visually-impaired waiters and
waitresses.

It brings about not only dining
experiences but also a chance for exchange between the abled and the disabled.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Director of the HCM City Tourism Department, said that
since 2022, the southern metropolis has reaped success in the programme
developing one typical tourism product for each district. The department has also
been striving to reform products so that the city can become a must-visit
destination.

Efforts have proved fruitful, she
noted, adding that HCM City now boasts more than 60 tourism products, including
30 new ones of local districts and Thu Duc city./.

Source: https://en.vietnamplus.vn/hcm-citys-tourism-products-among-top-unique-tours-in-vietnam/247958.vnp

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