Tommy Tang: "Pho

Renowned US personality and Chef Tommy Tang came to Vietnam to shoot part of his hit TV series Let’s Get Cooking with Tommy Tang. Thanh Nien interviewed him to get his side of the story.

Hi! You must be exhausted after a long journey.

Exhausted? Never! (laugh) Since I came to Vietnam, I did not have one day off. I hope that I can relax in Ho Chi Minh City.

What did you do during your trip to the North Vietnam?

Our first stop was Hanoi, and we’ve done 50-hours of filming there and Quang Ninh, Hue, Hoi An and Danang. We need to shoot 100 more hours in Ho Chi Minh City. We would like to let the world know how well Vietnam hosts its tourists. There are hotels in Vietnam we would like to introduce to US audiences, including the Hotel Sheraton, the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi, and the Furama Resort in Danang City.

In Hanoi, I went to many markets, restaurants and enjoyed a lot of food.

What do you think about Vietnamese cuisines?

I think Vietnamese food is healthy and better in terms of hygiene than other Asian countries. Vietnamese people eat a lot of vegetables and noodles. Your food is not too spicy hot, but you do use lots of pepper and chilly.

Hanoi’s food is not as spicy as that from the central cities of Hue and Danang. Each part of your country has a special cuisine and taste.

In a short period, how could you distinguish the differences in culinary tastes from the each part of Vietnam?

Most Americans know about Pho (a kind of noodle soup) and cha gio (spring roll). In fact, people from different parts of Vietnam tend to eat different types of food. For example, in Hanoi, they eat a lot of meat but in Ha Long, they are keen on seafood. The pan cake in Hue is terrific, and in Hoi An they have a special chicken dish.

What do you plan to do in Ho Chi Minh City?

There are still Americans who don’t understand Vietnam – maybe they have never been here before. I hope our series would help create another image of Vietnam as a beautiful, peaceful country with friendly people. We are going to shoot daily activities of locals in Ho Chi Minh City, and some important buildings, hotels, and restaurants.

In addition, we plan to shoot scenes in Can Tho city to provide audiences with images of the Mekong Delta.

We are very interested in the way Vietnamese people eat rice in little bowls and their wonderful coffee sold everywhere. You know, I drank 10 cups of Vietnamese coffee everyday.

Do you think that tourists would pay more interest after seeing your cooking show?

Sure. I could say that Vietnamese cuisines are not restricted to pho and cha gio. As our targeted viewers are high-income people, we expect to get calls after they see our show on Vietnam. You know, we spend US$41,000 for every 30-second clip of the 8-hour show featuring Vietnam.

What is your message to US audiences?

I would suggest Vietnam to Americans who want to explore the best Asian food. I want to return to Vietnam with my family and friends, not for work but to relax in its tourist spots and enjoy delicious dishes.

Thank You!

Thanh Nien, March 8, 2005

Reported by Trung Binh – Translated by Quynh Nhu.