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“I am so sorry. I normally don’t do this when customers are here," said Tam while folding clothes.

“That’s totally fine. Please don’t worry about us,” I responded while taking a bite of the vegetarian burger that was served 10 minutes prior.

“I have to organize all these and send them to people in the mountains tomorrow,” she added and pointed to the two big clear plastic bags filled with what seemed to be used or second-hand clothes.

“They don’t have much all the way deep in the mountains. They could really use these.”

It was a quiet evening at her Pub only guests were two teams: my newly wedded husband and I, and another American couple from the Bay area. Tam’s Surf Pub was a place for travelers or mostly North American ex-pats who would stop by for a bite of the familiar. But not completely like the usual North American diner, at Tam's you would have a burger paired with Tiger beer, with a gecko patiently watching you to finish your meal on the wall. But what people really come here for are Tam’s hospitality and her stories of Vietnam.

As for myself, it was one of the first times I ordered a vegetarian burger, therefore it was one of the most memorable. A bit greasy but no more than what you would expect from any burger. While enjoying my burger, I watched her as I would watch that burning log video on Netflix or loads of paper going into a paper shredder. So soothing.

From her pile of clothing, I see all the sports brands as if it could be a return pile from a Foot Locker: Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, UnderAmour, and the list could go on. Watching those brands as she neatly folds, I wondered how far they would have traveled to get there. Perhaps even further than me.

When Tam was halfway through her pile, she started a little tour of her surf shack and pub. Since her walls did not have enough space for all her photo frames, some of the frames were overflowing onto the dining tables. As for the photos that did not make it onto the walls, you would see them tucked right underneath your plate under the glass table top.

Tam's place seemed not just a pub, but a collage of her life. The life that she had learned to persevere, and the community she had cultivated despite the pain she suffered. Behind her thick-framed glasses and messy high bun, she had a sense of unmovable solidity.

Since her stories are not mine to share, you must visit her pub to hear them directly from Tam.

📍 Restaurant Info:

Tam's Pub and Surf Shop

An Thượng 5, Bắc Mỹ An, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam

Google Map:

Rainy weather calls for a galbitang. If only this soup was easy as other soups where you just put everything in the pot and start boiling.

Soaking it(to remove excess meat juice), blanching it, cooking it, and to cooling it to skim off the fat. All of which are such exacting steps. Nonetheless, the result makes the process absolutely worth it, with its ‘clean’ and ‘refreshing’(direct translation of how I would describe it in Korean) flavors.

I like adding daikon radish to my galbitang for that added depth and sweetness.


The holiday season is over, but I’m still enjoying the Stollen I made during Christmas. I usually like making Panettone during that time, but this year I wanted to do something different. To tell you the truth, I’ve never tasted Stollen before, so I have no reference to what it should taste like. Thinking of stollen comes with a memory of passing by bakeries in Itaewon, where they would put up signs in early December that says, “Order for Christmas Stollen closing soon”. I’m not sure whether it was procrastination or the commitment to waiting for multiple weeks that hindered me from ever purchasing one. Years pass and here I was, making Stollen for the first time and tasting it for the first time. Following Cupcakejemma's recipe, I made two small loaves instead of a single big one and shared it with a dear friend.

I realized that holiday baking recipes are special not because you get to eat them surrounded by all the festivities, but because the amount of effort it takes makes you only willing to make them at the end of the year. This goes the same for Panettones.


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