As an avid cook and lover of Vietnamese food, taking part in a cooking class was an absolute must! I had no idea how many options and different companies there would be to choose from. I picked Saigon Cooking Class through my guide book and a thumbs-up of approval by a local foodie friend of mine.
Meeting at Saigon's famed Bến Thành Market was a fitting start to the day. Here, we were separated into two [oddly disproportionate] groups and taken through the various highlights of the market. Our guide Tiến provided useful insight into the produce the vendors were selling as we stocked up on fresh ingredients for the day's cook. After a bit of difficulty organizing a taxi from the market, we eventually made it to the kitchen at the up-scale Hua Tuc Restaurant.
Settling into our prep areas, all the necessary ingredients were laid out right before us with most of the grunt work already taken care of. Our guide-and-chef took us through the meal prep step-by-step while explaining the processes and significance of everything involved. This was repeated several times as we worked our way through appetizer to main. Each time, the table was cleared and a new mise en place was set up as we ate our culinary creations. Finishing up just after lunch, we were presented a takeaway with all the recipes for what we'd made (sweet and sour dipping sauce, cuốn diếp, xôi chiên and bò cuốn lá lốt) and took a team photo. It was up to us to find our way home, but the restaurant was located in a nice part of town and it was a good excuse to discover more of Saigon.
I would highly recommend this class to anyone with basic cooking skills who's interested in learning the basics of Vietnamese cuisine. Personally, I found the class to be too entry level. If I was to do another class I would want to find something more challenging and for an entire day. Still, a trip to Vietnam isn't complete without a chance to test your hand at the local fare to bring some of that knowledge back home with you.
Visit them here: http://saigoncookingclass.com/