In this new original video series, Culture Trip takes viewers around the world by exploring the various cultures that call New York City home. Each episode will focus on one ethnic restaurant in the city and explore that country through the lens of food and the people who make it.
Whether it’s Vietnamese pho or Colombian arepas, each episodes will show that there is so much more to culture than what’s on the plate.
In this episode, we meet father and son duo Lam and Mike Lien from Vietnam, who walk us through the classic Vietnamese dish, pho. Lam is the chef behind District Saigon in Astoria, but his story starts far from the diverse streets of Queens. Originally from Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Lam fled his country during the Vietnam War before arriving in New York City as a refugee.
Today, Lam and his son Mike run District Saigon and infuse every single dish with their family’s history, authentic recipes and rich flavors. Vietnamese is a popular cuisine in New York City, but the Liens have managed to bring the freshness and simplicity expected of classic Vietnamese food to this borough.
Beyond the food, the dishes at District Saigon transport eaters to another country that is much revered despite a history pockmarked by war. Travelers and New Yorkers alike can take solace in knowing that for the bargain price of a $2.75 MTA subway pass, they can travel to countries like Vietnam through the food and family-run eateries found across this city.