Sunday, March 9, 2014

Restaurants in Saigon: North Korean Restaurant Experience.

     The last time I had North Korean food I left feeling rather empty and feeling as if I got ripped off. This was in Da Nang at the Crown Plaza. Somehow, I thought it would be different in Saigon. I was wrong. This time, I came home starving after a really expensive dinner.

     You go to a North Korean restaurant not because of the food. You go for the experience. You get to meet some of the most isolated people in the entire world, who are fortunate enough to be able to travel outside North Korea to work in a restaurant. WOW. The honor.. of it all.
For someone like Old Boy, who was actually born in South Korea, meeting North Koreans is a very thrilling experience. Supposedly their dialects are quite different according to him. But I wonder what goes on in the girls' minds that work there, meeting South Koreans who seem to be living it up and eating lavish meals. Our meal was very expensive. We didn't even get free kim chi.

    Without much notice, the water falls on the TV screens (broadcast direct from North Korea) turned off to reveal some karaoke backdrop. Then the waitresses, now dressed up, appear on stage and sing a hello song followed by a series of other songs for about fifteen minutes. As you can see in the video, there's also a little dancing, and plenty of Chinese cover songs as well. Remember, China is North Korea's only true ally. When it was all said and done, I felt very awkward being in that place. I was the only Vietnamese person around, not including the Vietnamese kitchen helpers that would routinely appear out of no where dressed in street clothes and looking extra sad. Now that I think, all the Vietnamese staff at the both North Korean restaurants that I've been to looked quite depressed for whatever reasons.  But man,, that music.. wow. I loved that "stadium" "square" "military regime" feel of how massive and epic it sounded coming from the waitresses' voices.

    So it was hard to distinguish what was uniquely North Korean from just Korean from Vietnamese that was on our table. Old Boy tried some North Korean Bear liquor. We ordered some kind of flaming giant seashell. We couldn't afford the giant river fish that supposedly was the best item on the menu because every other table seemed to enjoy it. We couldn't afford it. I was starving. This is kind of a taste of authentic North Korea, I guess. SoJournaling Vietnam in the PRK? Maybe... but only if Old Boy can get a visa.... we'll see.
In the mean time, enjoy the images. I do recommend this place just for the experience of it all.


  1. North Korea? Starving? It sounds quite authentic.

  2. what's that shell thing with the shrimp?

  3. are you not afraid of parasites(wurms) in raw beef?

  4. my cousin lives 2 blocks from dem sen park..we were there a lot,it was cool

  5. where is this in Saigon?