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Vietnamese, Singaporean foreign ministers enjoy lunch at hawker center

Vietnamese, Singaporean foreign ministers enjoy lunch at hawker center

Thursday, July 20, 2023, 10:18 GMT+7
Vietnamese, Singaporean foreign ministers enjoy lunch at hawker center
Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son (R, 2nd) and his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan (L, 2nd) enjoy lunch at a hawker stall at Maxwell Food Center in Singapore, July 18, 2023. Photo: P.H.

Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son and his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan on Tuesday visited Singapore’s Maxwell Food Center for lunch to chow down on chicken rice and bubble tea.

Diners at the Maxwell Food Center, one of the city-state’s most popular food complexes, were excited by the VIP visit, with many snapping photos of the two guests enjoying their meal.

“A visit to the Maxwell Food Center is a rare experience for leaders, but a unique one,” said a Channel NewsAsia reporter.

Minister Son shared that this trip was not his first time at the Maxwell Food Center and, in fact, he had visited the food court on a trip to Singapore in 2000.

According to Minister Balakrishnan, hawker centers represent a unique intersection of Singaporean culinary culture.

“You know, food is very important for us,” he said.

“Singaporeans love pho, banh mi, and other Vietnamese delicacies and I thought it’d be nice to return the favor.”

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (R, 2nd) and his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan (R, 3rd) visit a hawker stall run by a Vietnamese national. Photo: P.H

Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son (R, 2nd) and his Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan (R, 3rd) visit a hawker stall run by a Vietnamese national. Photo: P.H.

Aside from chicken rice, the two ministers sampled appam – a fluffy rice pancake originating in southern India – made by a Vietnamese hawker at the food court.

The two-day visit, from Monday to Tuesday, to Singapore was Minister Son’s first since he took office in April 2021.

Hawker centers like the Maxwell Food Center are among Singapore’s most famous tourist draws and are considered a reflection of both Singaporean and neighboring Malaysian food culture. 

They are usually open-air complexes with tightly arranged tables and chairs for diners.

People from all walks of life gather at hawker centers, with each center typically housing dozens of food stalls offering meals at budget prices.

Hawker culture was recognized by UNESCO two years ago as the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

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Hong Ngan - Duy Linh / Tuoi Tre News

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