Feeding my curiosities everywhere I go.

Because Anthony Bourdain Told Me So: My Venture to Vietnam (Garden)

Disclaimer: My avid readers must think I have fallen completely off the planet but really, I have had simply NO TIME to share my foodie adventures to my sweet sweet followers… until now.

While I was gone, I have been, I have seen, and I have tasted so many great things that I can’t wait to publish them ASAP. My first priority as a foodie is to praise the man who has the “ideal foodie life but chooses to be as far away from that cliche foodie facade as humanly possible but remains the GOD OF FOODIES”, ANTHONY BOURDAIN.


I have had the pleasure of seeing Anthony live when his GUTS and GLORY TOUR made a stop at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. It was an even greater pleasure to realize that I had the tickets, since it was one of my many late night drunken-yet-genius ideas. Winning.

I must say that Christopher Newport University is a beautiful campus; very traditional academia style and located directly across from the Virginia Mariner’s Museum. Accompanying me was my best friend, Joey who has an equally ballsy yet nonchalant attitude who appreciates any random opportunity to consume a plethora of libations. Upon arrival, we hop in the beer and wine line ready to get a nice even buzz before showtime (and the only way Anthony Bourdain would have wanted us). After purchasing two glasses of generic maroon-colored table wine, we are informed that no such beverages are permitted in the auditorium. Of course. We have been in this situation before. Chug it. Two glasses down the hatch. It is showtime.

The presentation was outstanding and quite hilarious; he was better than expected, although, honestly I didn’t really know what to expect since the description of the show was rather ominous. And surprisingly  he sounds EXACTLY like he does on TV (for some reason, that always amazes me). I just knew, when I bought the tickets, my cognition comprehended BOURDAIN, and I had to be there. Who cares if he was selling lemonade on the side of a sketchy back road, I would have been his first customer with a bottle of vodka in hand.

anthony and paula

That evening, he ragged his very well known celebrity chef colleagues (Paula Deen is his fav), shared stories of his international adventures including what it is EXACTLY like to be a part of his camera crew (terrible, I’m sure….sign me up!). He also explained his fascinating, tried and true philosophy of the importance of food in the world, not solely as nourishment, but  as a symbol; how food can expose such an intricate and personal experience to other through its preparation and its enjoyment.

After the presentation, Anthony opened the floor to questions. If categorized by my high school senior class, I would have been The Prettiest Shadow, since I was seen, but never heard. I am now 25 and, pardon my language, but I don’t give a F***. So, still steady from my pre-show grape juice, a question popped into my head. Heart is fist pumping out of my chest, I decide to approach the mic toward Anthony.

“I’m 25, just finished graduate school, just received my passport, Where do I go first?” My exact words.

His response; unexpected but equally authentic and full of experience, passion, and personal perspective.

an evening with ab

Without pause, he told me to go to Asia. First thought in my head, “Dammit, he didn’t say France!”

Asia, he feels wholeheartedly, is the place that he, as a (probable) thrice world traveler and food lover, would never be bored. The cuisine combinations are full of heritage, tradition, and emotion, and they are endless. And, he says, if I had the chance, go to Vietnam. Anthony admits day in and day out that he would die happy on a plastic stool in rural Vietnam with a gigantic, steaming bowl of Pho in front of him. (And as a fan, I knew he loved Pho, so I am glad I was the only to have him admit it at the presentation.)

That night, I walked away from that stage feeling accomplished, finding the guts to ask the one and only Anthony Bourdain a personal question of my own creation and to receive a wholehearted, honest response in return.

Taking his advice, and being my impatient self, I thought it would be clever to highlight one of the most authentic Vietnamese restaurants in our area, Vietnam Garden. (Granted, I did not have to sit on a plan for 12 hours in order to experience some real Vietnamese cuisine, but I will leave that experience on the back burner for sometime in my near future.)


It must be authentic if Vietnamese people dine there… I am only speaking the truth.

Being extremely hungry this day, I decided to go all out on my Vietnam venture. I am Paleo-ian by nature, but once in a while, I must feed to my 1/4 Korean side and indulge, on occasion, yummy rice dishes. Usually, I have a spirit with every meal, but today I was in the mood for sweetened iced coffee. And what a fun experience that was. Starbucks, watch your back. Honestly, the simplicity of this is what makes it special.


After several minutes, I received a hot cup of coffee, cup brewed to order and a tall glass of ice. I was instructed to stir the coffee to my liking; the more I stirred, the sweeter the coffee became. Hmm. At the bottom on the cup was sweeten condensed milk. Lovely. If you know me at all, you could safely assumed that I stirred that coffee until a beautiful tan color emerged. To finish, I poured the mixture over ice. Really delicious.


To start, I always order veggie spring rolls. Uber crispy and piping hot and served with a house dipping sauce.


As an homage to Anthony, I had to get Pho. I had the flank steak Pho with a heaping side of beansprouts, basil, jalapenos and lime wedges. I could not ask for better.


Mom opted for a something different and per the suggestion by our server, she chose the cold noodle salad. She isn’t as adventurous as I am but it turned out to be an awesome dish. Chopped romaine with rice noodles topped with pan seared chicken, crispy wontons, peanuts and other veggies and a side of house dressing consisting of fish oil,apple cider vinegar, and shredded carrot. I would have never guessed it was fish oil until she told me. The perfect combination.


If you have EVER wanted to venture to Vietnam, but only have time for one meal, I would highly recommend Vietnam Garden in Virginia Beach; a small, family-owned establishment that is superbly authentic.


INSTAGRAM: flwrbombfoodie

xoxo FBF


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