Ho Chi Minh City
Peter Cuong Franklin
Who’s cooking? Peter Cuong Franklin, a Vietnamese-American chef who studied at Le Cordon Bleu and trained at world-famous restaurants including Caprice in Hong Kong, Alinea in Chicago and Nahm in Bangkok. A pioneer of modern Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, he is one of the most recognisable faces on the country’s growing gastronomic scene. As it returns to the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list this year, Anan Saigon is named The Best Restaurant in Vietnam.
Culinary inspiration: Franklin says that his true inspiration is his mother, who runs a small noodle shop in Dalat (central Vietnam) and is famed for her regional-style pork and turmeric noodle soup and pork sausage steamed in banana leaves. At Anan Saigon, he combines his deep knowledge of Southeast Asian street-food flavours with contemporary international techniques.
What’s the signature dish? The chef’s Caviar Bánh Nhúng is inspired by a traditional waffle cake often found at street food markets in Vietnam, combined with a classic French tart preparation. The tart shell is replaced by a light and crispy Vietnamese rosette pastry made from rice flour and egg, topped with salmon caviar, smoked salmon and crème fraiche. The One Bite Pho, another classic, is a molecular take on Vietnam’s most famous dish, featuring black truffle and wagyu beef in a sphere of pho broth.
Other ventures: Franklin also helms Nhau Nhau cocktail bar and the Pot Au Pho noodle bar, with all his restaurants – including Anan Saigon – located in Chợ Cũ, the oldest wet market in Ho Chi Minh’s city centre.
Bonus point: The cook serves on the advisory board of Streets International, a charity based in Hội An that trains disadvantaged youths for a career and future in F&B.