Exploring Chinese + Vietnamese Cuisine: Insights from Susu

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With the launch of Cityscapes & Countrysides: An Intimate Look at China and Vietnam, WildChina is setting out to learn a a bit more about Vietnamese food that our future guests will experience on this cross-border adventure.  We rang up our good friends over at Susu, Beijing’s favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

Exploring Chinese + Vietnamese Cuisine: Insights from Susu
Susu’s famous spring rolls

The idea to start a pioneering Vietnamese restaurant in Beijing began over a dinner party several years ago…  Kim Yen, a co-founder of Susu and native of Saigon, has lived in Beijing for the last 10 years.  During one of her exquisite dinner parties, Beijing powerhouse couple, Amy Li of Talking Point and journalist Jonathan Ansfield ,  fell in love with her Vietnamese cuisine and, however challenging it seemed, idea of opening a restaurant together.  This trio put their heads together, assembled a team of Vietnamese chefs, partnered with design team Kupa Studios and opened Susu in spring 2011.  Since, it has received rave reviews – not only for its authentic and decorative plates but also for its idyllic atmosphere, an oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of Beijing’s old alleyways.

Exploring Chinese + Vietnamese Cuisine: Insights from Susu
Inside Susu

As Susu’s owners work to bring the best of Vietnamese cuisine to their diners but also live and frequently eat Chinese food, they are well poised to comment on the cuisine’s differences and similarities.  One of the more obvious examples to point out is that Vietnam’s French colonial history-infused baguettes, rich, aromatic coffees and the use of fresh vegetables in dishes.  The Vietnamese bahn mi, featured below, incorporates the French baguette with Vietnamese seasoning + preparation of the meat. A truly delicious melangé of two very different cultures coming together on the plate.

Exploring Chinese + Vietnamese Cuisine: Insights from Susu
Bahn Mi at Susu

Kim feels that there could be books and books written on the shared food history between China and Vietnam– and maybe she will accomplish that one day.  But for now, Kim explains that the food differences can simply be summed up as “Vietnamese foods are often served raw, while Chinese cuisine values food that has been cooked until warm and tender.”

Want to learn more for yourself? A Chinese and Vietnamese foodie? Join Cityscapes & Countrysides: An Intimate Look at China and Vietnam to experience the best of both culture’s cuisines first-hand.  Questions about this trip? Drop a line at info@wildchina.com. And to settle those cravings for delicious Vietnamese until then, drop by Susu for authentic food and delightful ambiance.

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Photo 1 by Gustavo Rugeles , Photo 2 courtesy of Kupa Studios, Photo 3 by Eddie Wang.

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