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First restaurants in Vietnam awarded Michelin star

Vietnam’s booming food scene was awarded its first ever Michelin stars Tuesday, with four restaurants selected by the prestigious dining guide.

Three eateries in Hanoi — Gia, Tam Vi and Hibana by Koki — and one in Ho Chi Minh City — Anan Saigon — were each awarded one Michelin star.

Although there were no stars handed out to traditional street food eateries serving classics such as pho — a noodle soup — or bun cha — a vermicelli noodle dish with grilled pork — Vietnamese flavours feature heavily among the winners.

Tam Vi largely focusses on northern Vietnamese dishes including ham with periwinkle snails — served with fresh herbs, rice vermicelli noodles and fish sauce — and crab soup with spinach, a popular summer meal.

Nguyen Bao Anh, whose mother, Tam, owns the restaurant and named it after herself, said her mum “had a dream of opening a restaurant where customers could come and feel like they were eating a home-cooked meal”.

“The restaurant serves traditional food and I think now not many restaurants serve that kind of food that remind people of familiar flavours,” Bao Anh told AFP after the awards ceremony in Hanoi.

“This award is for my mum and I’m proud of her,” she added.

Sam Tran, the chef and co-founder of high-end contemporary restaurant Gia, spent 10 years studying in Australia before returning to Hanoi, her home city, to push the boundaries of Vietnamese cuisine.

“Through each dish at Gia, I want to tell the story of Vietnamese culture,” she wrote in a guide to the ceremony.

“I want to tell the story of each stage of my life, the regions I have visited, the flavours passed down from generation to generation that I have tasted.”

In Ho Chi Minh City, Anan Saigon was recognised for its modern take on Vietnamese classics, including a bone marrow wagyu beef pho.

Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide, said Vietnam’s two biggest cities, Hanoi and commercial centre Ho Chi Minh City, offered a vibrant and varied dining experience.

“Hanoi has a laid back and relaxed vibe, with small shops and restaurants mostly from the Old Quarter”, Poullennec said.

“Ho Chi Minh City on the other hand is a bustling and rapidly growing city, which offers a unique energy to all travellers and a very diverse food scene.”

Hibana by Koki, which serves Japanese cuisines was the only non-Vietnamese restaurant to receive a star.

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