NEW YORK “For a place with so much history – decades of wartime and occupation have left their scars – Hồ Chí Minh City feels surprisingly new,” the New York Times style magazine starts in a recently-published story about the “vibrant, stylish, youthful” city.
A view of the Notre Dame Cathedral in HCM City. Photo mytour.vn
“The metropolis is constantly reinventing itself,” the US-based magazine says, given that the US trade embargo was lifted only 25 years ago and the majority of the city’s population is under 35 years old.
A short period of overwhelming foreign investment, plus rapid urbanisation and a booming labour force, has established Việt Nam as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with HCM City – still often referred to as Saigon – at its forefront, it says.
“While increasingly taller buildings continue to reshape the skyline, the city remains firmly in touch with tradition,” it describes, and visitors can enjoy the best street-side bowl of pork vermicelli in the city at the intersection of Nguyễn Trung Trực and Lê Lợi a few blocks away from a Louis Vuitton store.
“It’s that dichotomy — between a 50-cent scooter ride and a US$150 omakase, for example — that has turned visitors into residents and residents into the new business owners who diversify the city’s ever-evolving cultural landscape.”
The New York Times style magazine has recently published a story recognising HCM City as a “vibrant, stylish, youthful” city. Photo reproduced from the magazine
Việt Kiều (Overseas Vietnamese), the children and grandchildren of refugees who fled the country during the war time, are returning to their roots and inspiring contemporary perspectives on Saigonese fashion, food and art, it adds.
The magazine then provides readers a guide of where to stay, eat, shop and what to see in Việt Nam’s largest and most exhilarating metropolis.
Anyone with even cursory knowledge of Vietnamese cuisine is aware of phở
and of how readily it can be found in Vietnamese-American enclaves like San Jose, California and Houston, it says.
But HCM City offers some of the “funkier, more complex noodle soups of the region” - a crab-and-tomato broth cradling fresh snails and fried fish cake at Bún Riêu Cua Ốc (66 Nguyễn Thái Bình); the pork rib and Vietnamese charcuterie in clear broth punctuated with fermented shrimp paste at Bún Mọc Thanh Mai (14 Trương Định); or the dry noodles with wontons and lardons at Hủ Tiếu Mì Cô Giang (176 Bis Cô Giang Ward).
The story also introduces visitors to contemporary streetwear brands – The New Playground and Moi Dien – by “Việt Kiều” creative designers, and suggests they visit the Buddha-themed Suối Tiên amusement park and the Southern Women’s Museum where relics and photographs relating to the history of Vietnamese women and their impact on the development and liberation of the country are on display. VNS