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Cheeseburgers for change


Burger-culture is alive in Saigon, but is it well? Are the flame grilled cow carcass slabs coming out of the burger barn above up to the Las Vegas benchmark? They're certainly well travelled; out of the US, via Korea to Saigon. It's an exotic, lengthy journey for a lump of meat, cow 'parts', preservatives and a bun. The Koreans have brought their brand of burger to town in force. There are seven branches of Lotteria dotted around town. And they're very popular. Especially with the hip MTV watchin' Saigonese youth looking for the cultural equivalent on a plate. This joint is an annex to the Coop supermarket at 168 Nguyen Dinh Chieu in District 3. You've got eight 'Combo Set's and four 'Value Set's to choose from. Prices range from 26,000VD for a Cheeseburger set (Burger, Pepsi, fries) to a 44,000VD Double Cheeseburger Value set (Double Cheeseburger, Pepsi, fries and a leg of fried chicken). Interestingly, for burger buffs, it’s not only Korean soap operas heading up the cultural invasion of Vietnam, but the Korean signature Bulgogi Burger has also joined the coalition of crap here. It'll set you back 20,000VD.


OK - in we go. Regulation burger counter, cheap plastic, garish menus plastered above the kitchen. Staff kitted out in the standard, fast food fashions complete with hats and name badges. If you zip along to this branch of Lotteria at the moment and order a 'Combo Set' you'll also get a FREE 'Detective Conan' notebook. Whoopee. I'm sold. I order 'Combo Set 5' (Double Cheeseburger, Pepsi, fries) for 36,000VD. This is the first time I've ever had a double cheeseburger, but it is US Election Day and time for a change, not only for the yanks, but for this limey too.


Not sure how common the word 'French' is in fast food joints across the States these days, but you'll still find it plastered across your pack of fries here in Saigon. Fries are fine, no need for extra salt. Pepsi is Pepsi - I'm a Coke man myself - but the burger, actually burgers with this particular order, are second-rate stodge monsters. There's way too much Mayo, fat gherkins and thick onions, but the biggest burger blunder of all – someone slipped half a head of lettuce in there . If I wanted rabbit food I would have hit the salad bar. Leave the shrubbery out and bring on the meat. All in all, this was unsatisfying and messy. Head to KFC if you're looking for junk. There must be better burgers than this in town, but where? Comments please. Now back to the election. More junk later.


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I really cannot imagine Lotteria doing well anywhere else but in Korea. The food, without oversimplifying it, is BAD. They've now come up with a super-large clone of a burger that sells for something like USD5.00.

Just out of curiousity, I'm sure the have McD's over there. How about Burger King? Or better still, Wendy's? Remember them?

Pretty close - Bush 249 Kerry 211 at the moment over at CNN. Someone pls - don't let Bush touch that 270 magic number!

'No' to Mickey D's, 'No' to Wendy's, 'No' to Burger King. Lotteria, sadly, is it.

Interestingly, Pepsi arrived in 96/97 before Coke. Coke came a year or more later.

250,000 votes still to count in Ohio - not all over yet.

That's real sad for the fast-food crowd over there then, huh? I can't believe McD ain't there yet. Well, it's not too late then for McPieMan.

Actually, I find it refreshing. I mean, I'm sure Mick D's have tried to enter, but clearly haven't been able to. They will come, they will be massive... for a while. A friend told me McD's is big in China. In fact many Chinese think McD's is Chinese. Yikes...

McPieman's would be chipppy or a greay spoon - believe me - no burgers.

Back at the ballot box... NBC call it, Drudge calls it, several blogs call it, CNN says too close to call. Got BBC on the net here. They're keeping a tight stiff upper lip on what they know and their cheeks are firmly clenched over the Presidency. It's not over yet.... still those quarter million Ohions to count... Don't do a 2000 you morons.

The burger at Ciao Cafe on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai is good. The veggie burger from Chez Guido delivery isn't bad either but the bun is overwhelming (I always take the top off and chuck it).

BTW, speaking of international food in HCMC, have you tried Au Parc at 23 Han Thuyen, Q.1? It's more of an expat hangout but the food is excellent quality and the restaurant itself very pleasant, even with kiddie in tow.

Hi Lei - Yup, tried the burger at Ciao, not bad at all. At least it's hand made, well I think it is. I know Au Parc and I do like the food, but it's a little *too* expat heavy for me. Not that there's anyting wrong with that. But, you know. I'm more street...

On behalf of my fellow Koreans, my sincere apologies for the atrocities that are passed off as hamburgers by Lotteria and the like...

Au Parc --- decent food, but why is nearly every salad dish seasoned with cumin seeds? It got a bit one trick pony-ish for me after the first few visits.

Err, Pieman --- a proper burger does **not** include 'cow parts' ... just fine quality beef, ground or chopped (and that's not the same as "ground beef"), preferably about 80% fat for juiciness. A good sturdy bun (but not too much of it), toasted or heated up on the grill. Medium rare on the rare side is my preference. Try doing one at home, seared stovetop to a loverly exterior crustiness in a nice heavy pan. It'll undoubtedly surpass anything you can find here.

I might grill a few burgers up this wknd but tonite ---given the prospect of the next four years --- I'll be drowning my sorrows in a big tub of gin and tonic.


Hey James - apology accepted.

Ecr - about 'the parts' I was strictly referring to the Korean version. I'll wager there's a half hundredweight of 'parts' in among that pile of plop. Actually, I've tried doin' burgers at home. Just can't get the seasoning right. I really like the look of Reid's In 'n' Out burger in Las Vegas that I linked to above.

While we're on the theme, is there anywhere to get a decent hotdog in Saigon? Maybe it's election fever, but I've been thinking a lot about 'dogs recently.

Outta Gin here. I wonder if Paint thinner would help erase the recent past???

Hmmmm.....any hot dog in Vietnam is guaranteed to contain more "parts" than I'm willing to ingest. As for hamburgers, I think *plenty* of salt and a few good grinds of pepper are all the seasoning required, if your beef is good quality. I prefer to season mine after it's on the bun, with condiments.
Gin didn't work. I woke up this morning ... and we still had a numbnut for a president. Oh well.

Thanks again for the burger tips. Quite like mine with mustard actually. Didn't think 'dogs were a 'go' in Saigon. BTW - Did you see your President's victory salute. Very statesman-like...

Oh and this interview after he errr... apparently... errr... gave up drinking... Hmmmm.

Hi Noodlepie,

Sorry you had a bad experience with the burger. Was the meat itself bad? How does it compare to something like a McDonald's? By the way, I'm more of a Coke man myself as well.

BTW...the morons did a 2000. *sigh* I need to take up alcohol and drugs already.

Hey Reid - the meat woz bollocks. Literally.

Saigon hot dog alert -- but it's grilled on sugar cane. Check it out (if you dare) at Nu Lan on Ham Nghi. You might consider a write-up on this place, since it's a Saigon "standard" and the menu has a bit of everything. My faves here are the chao ga, bun thit nuong, banh bao thit (nicely seasoned filling), Sichuan-like hot chili oil on the tables, and the grilled banana-stuffed rice rolls adorned with a bit of sweetened condensed milk.

Hot dog and mustard, onions - Yay. Sugar cane - nay. What the hell... have made a mental note and will drop by next time I'm down that neck of the woods. Cheers for all the tips.

Appendix: Hot Dogs have been spotted at the 'Hard Rock Cafe' in D1 on Mac Thi Buoi Street. There's a serving hatch open to the street and 3 or 4 varieties of 'dogs. Will be checking this out down the line.

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I find it hard to believe you've did a burger survey in HCM and not included Black Cat. Its just round from Juice.

Please have a visit and a suprise.

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