Vietnamese restaurant encased a table in glass after Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain ate there
A Vietnamese restaurant in Hanoi has preserved the table where former US President Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain shared a meal.
BBC News reported that the popular street food restaurant in Vietnam’s capital has preserved beer bottles and plates from where the unlikely pair filmed a scene for Bourdain’s Parts Unknown in 2016.
The owners of the Bún chả Hương Liên restaurant where the two men shared a meal for USD $6 (AUD $8.78 or £4.97), said the idea to put their plates, table and cutlery behind glass came from customers.
Co-owner of the Bun Cha Huong Lien, Nguyen Thi Hang Nga told BBC News: “The customers love it, many take photos next to the table.
“For us, it is a nice memory that we will cherish forever. It is not a PR gimmick, I don’t think we get more clientele.”
The owners even organised the set-up similar to how Obama and Bourdain had it while dining, minus the food, of course.
She added: “The display was set up just before the Lunar New Year [in mid-February] and I haven’t noticed any change in the flow of diners.
“Of course, the bowls and plates on display have been washed, as well as the empty beer bottles!”
It is said to be the first time a foreign dignitary has been recognised in this way, as this honor is usually reserved for the country’s leaders.
The restaurant has even named a dish after the former US president.
Seven years ago, the late Bourdain took Obama to what was then known as a ‘locals only’ bún chả eatery during the filming of his CNN series.
However, since then, travellers from around the world have flocked to the eatery, with Hương Liên even becoming a popular tourist attraction.
The celebrity chef passed away two years later in his hotel in France, where he was filming for an upcoming series of the show.
Obama shared a touching tribute when the news was revealed to the public.
While reminiscing over the meal they shared in Hanoi, Obama wrote: “‘Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.’
“This is how I’ll remember Tony.
“He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together.
“To make us a little less afraid of the unknown.
“We’ll miss him.”
Commenters frequently compare Rahma to Bourdain, the beloved late chef and TV host who traveled the world and brought everyone along for the ride. “It’s the highest compliment I could receive,” Rahma says. “The reason he was so cool is because he was vulnerable and open and actually interested.”
It’s a rare feat on a platform where serialized content is rife with posturing do-gooders and endless tiny mic interviews. My own fondness for the show is partly due to the fact that my dad is a longtime cab driver. I watched the first episode of Keep the Meter Running through that lens, assessing Rahma’s intentions and grading his every move. Was he overidealizing the worker behind the wheel? Was he dehumanizing them? (No and no; he passed the test.)
“I’ve always paid attention to my cab drivers,” Rahma says enthusiastically. “I’m sure your dad is fuckin’ sick. They know something that I don’t know.” Cab drivers, who spend hours behind the wheel meeting dozens of people from all walks of life day in and day out, are anthropologists of a kind, Rahma reasons. “You have to know something. And that’s what the show ultimately is about. I’ve spent all my life trying to figure out who I am. Like, what is the secret? How do I become happy?”
Rahma’s journey to the back seat of a million cabs has been surprisingly nonlinear. The 36-year-old began his career in New York more than a decade ago. He worked in media, positioning verticals for Vice and helping to launch the video department for The New York Times. He then pivoted to his own company, the Nameless Network, which he describes as “NowThis News meets Vice meets Vox.” He was comfortable and fairly successful and entirely dissatisfied. “I got really burnt out,” he says. He also felt like an imposter. “I was like, what am I doing? I’m just playing the role of a CEO. I’m faking it ’til I make it—and it’s working, but it doesn’t feel like me.”
He tried pivoting again. First, to poetry. Soon, he realized that what he liked most about his poetry readings were the moments in between when the audience laughed at his little self-deprecating bits. That laughter was what he really wanted. So he pivoted again, dedicating everything to becoming a full-time comic. “I need to jam 10 years of work into four years,” he remembers thinking.
He wiped his Instagram clean and started recording front-facing jokes and sketches, amassing a following that now stands at 80,000 users. (I first heard of Rahma when he went viral for going all screwball Liam Neeson on his neighbors for allegedly stealing his latest issue of New York magazine.) Along the way, he wrote and starred in Out of Order, a short film directed by Nicolas Heller, a.k.a. New York Nico, a city native whose wildly popular Instagram page is a tribute to lovable kooks across the five boroughs. He launched a comedic history podcast, First!, featuring guests like Ramy Youssef. And now he’s got Keep the Meter Running, his most popular offering to date. He wants to keep making it for “as long as possible.”
“I’m 36, and this is the first time in my life that I’m like, Oh, I know what I’m supposed to do,” he says. “This is what I love. I finally have arrived where I’ve always wanted to go.”