Vietnamese Spring Roll Noodle Bowl (Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong)

creative direction, photography & editing CYNTHIA NGUYEN in collaboration with OUR PLACE

Celebrating one of the biggest days in the Lunar calendar…

I’m delighted to share with you a personal recipe from the family archive for Lunar New Year— Bún Chả Giò Thịt Nướng, a beautiful and fresh Southern Vietnamese dish that has been passed down from my mother.

Made up of layers of goodness, from the bed of vermicelli, lemongrass marinated pork, to healthy mixed greens and crunchy, golden spring rolls— all done in a single pan. Topped with crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables and a flavourful fish sauce to compliment the entire delicious dish. It’s every special occasion like birthdays, Christmas, Lunar New Year, that my mom would make spring rolls, while my dad did all the frying. They were easily enjoyed by all ages. Prior to 2020, when my parents came to visit me, my mom would freeze a bunch of them as part of her care packages to enjoy while I lived on my own. Nowadays, I miss them. I miss the taste of spring rolls where I was fortunate to have them served at the family home or simply pull out of my freezer when I thought of them. Now, I’m finally able to make my own, no matter where I am. I can get that taste of my mom’s cooking through these and I’m thrilled to share it with you guys to try. 🥄

Side note: I’ve also untouched the images of the food below to showcase the true bright colours of the ingredients, cook on the food, and final dish. Should I continue doing this or edit the images to be more cohesive with the tone of my website and style of photography editing? Let me know what you think!

 

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5 from 2 votes

Bun Cha Gio Cha Thit Nuong

A beautiful and fresh Southern Vietnamese dish that has been passed down from my mother— consisting of layers of goodness. From vermicelli, pork marinated with lemongrass, to healthy mixed greens and crunchy, golden spring rolls. Topped with crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables and fish sauce to compliment the delicious and popular dish.
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 4
Author: Cynthia Nguyen

Equipment

  • Our Place Always Pan to boil, fry, sauté
  • Large Mixing Bowls
  • Plates to fold Spring Rolls
  • Large Serving Bowls for Final Dish
  • Small Serving Bowls for Fish Sauce
  • Small Sauce Pot for Pickled Vegetables Mix
  • Jars for Pickled Vegetables

Ingredients

Spring Rolls | Cha Gio

  • 1 lb ground pork (500grams of tofu works too)
  • 1 lb peeled, clean shrimp
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 ½ tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (I use Phu Quoc Fish Sauce)
  • cup dried black fungus mushrooms (also known as wood ear mushrooms)
  • 1 package spring roll wraps (I use Spring Home TYJ Spring Roll Pastry, mom’s go-to)
  • cup vegetable or canola oil to fry

Lemongrass Pork | Thit Nuong

  • 1 lb pork loin
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • hoisin sauce
  • tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • chili flakes (optional for desired level of spice)
  • tbsp vegetable oil (or canola oil)

Pickled Vegetables

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 daikon (optional, the dish featured in the images only includes pickled carrot ribbons)
  • 5 tbsp white sugar
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • cup boiling water
  • 1 dried bay leaf (optional, normally done without, however you can play with the pickled flavours if you’re feeling adventurous)
  • fresh red chili peppers or habanero peppers (optional for desired level of spice)

Fish Sauce

  • tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • tbsp freshly squeezed lime
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • chili flakes or habanero pepper (optional for desired level of spice)
  • pickled carrots and daikon (optional, this your pickled vegetable)

Noodles and Fresh Greens

  • 1 package vermicelli noodles
  • lettuce
  • mint
  • Asian basil
  • cucumber
  • crushed peanuts (Enjoy without peanuts if you're allergic!)
  • fried shallots (optional)
  • scallions (optional)

Instructions

Spring Rolls | Cha Gio

  • Soak your black fungus in some water to allow them to expand and rehydrate.
  • Wash and peel your shrimp before mincing well.
  • Finely chop your carrots, onions, shallot and black fungus.
  •  In a mixing bowl, add all of your ingredients for the filling and mix well.
  • Peel and lay out your wraps on a large plate to begin folding.
  • Add 2 tbsp of filling on your wrap. Wrap your spring rolls. Although there’s a traditional way which you can find online via videos, I just wrap mine like a baby burrito.
  • Prep to fry by adding your oil in the pan. ** If you’d like to opt for a healthier version of spring rolls, you can oil a baking tray and pop them in the oven to bake. Frying definitely achieves that crunch and flakiness and is more of the traditional way of cooking these.**
  • Once the pan is ready, fry your spring rolls, until they are golden brown all around and fully cooked inside.

Lemongrass Pork | Thit Nuong

  • Slice your pork loin into thin strips.
  • Finely cut your lemongrass.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix everything together well. (Optional, leave marinated pork for 1 hr)
  • Over medium heat and cook your marinated pork for about 5 minutes. (Until pork is cooked through)
  • Once you're done, you can sprinkle crushed peanuts and/fried shallots over top. Feel free to opt from this step if you're allergic to peanuts or replace with fried shallots.

Pickled Vegetables

  • Prepare pickled vegetables a day before or 1-2 hours before eating.
  • Finely cut your carrots, (and daikon if you intend to make) A peeler works, as you can make them into carrot ribbons.
  • In a small sauce pot, boil water. Then put your vinegar, sugar, bay leaf (optional) into the boiling water and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Prep your jar(s) in the meantime by placing your carrots/daikon inside.
  • Remove the vinegar mixture you've made off the stove and pour into your jars.
  • Feel free to add chopped chili peppers for desired level of spice, before putting the lids on the jars.
  • Allow them to cool down and pickle for a minimum of 1-2 hours or overnight before eating. You can store them in the fridge.

Fish Sauce

  • Super easy— just add everything together in a small bowl and mix.
  • Feel free to add more lime, sugar or spice, depending on desired taste.

Noodles and Fresh Greens | Plating the Dish

  • Boil water and cook your vermicelli noodles with the strainer in the Always Pan. A pot to boil your noodles works here too.
  • Once they’re cooked, strain the noodles and allow them to cool down before adding them to the bowls.
  • Dice up some scallions and reuse a bit of your fried oil from spring rolls to glaze them before topping your vermicelli noodles.
  • Wash your fresh vegetables well and cut the cucumber into slices.
  • Cut up the crispy spring rolls and then add all the remaining items into the bowl—  the spring rolls, pickled vegetables, the lemongrass pork with some crushed peanuts on top (fried shallots are optional).
  • Finish off with drizzling your fish sauce on top of everything in your bowl, and enjoy!


If you decide to make your spring rolls in advance like what I did here to split up the cooking time, you can place your freshly fried spring rolls in the freezer and when you are ready to serve to eat, simply pop them into the oven (toaster oven works too) to get them crispy again. 

For those looking for a health conscious option instead of frying the spring rolls, you may bake them until they are golden and cooked inside as well. Traditionally, Vietnamese spring rolls are fried to get that extra crispy, golden and flakey outer shell.

 


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What’s truly amazing about this Bún Chả Giò Thịt Nướng dish is that you can enjoy all the components of this dish separately. You have the choice to simply make just the spring rolls as delicious appetizers, or enjoy the lemongrass pork on some rice with steam vegetables. The fish sauce to this recipe can be used for almost any other Vietnamese dish, such as Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Pancakes/Crispy Crêpes), Gỏi Xoài (Mango Salad), Bánh Bột Lọc (Vietnamese Topioca Dumplings), Cơm Sườn Nướng (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops on Rice), Bánh Cuốn (Steamed Rice Rolls) and much more. Pretty versatile right? I normally make a large jar of fish sauce to store in the fridge and use it over time for my different various dishes.

 


Featured products used: Our Place Always Pan in “Heat”, Our Place Main Plates in “Steam”, Our Place Side Bowls in “Steam”, Our Place Drinking Glasses in “Clear”,  Anthropologie Harvest Foliage Bowl, Bamboo Mixing Bowl, Miyabi 6000 MCT



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Why not pin it to your Pinterest board and try it yourself!
If you could share your experience below, I’d love to hear about it.

 

Pin this recipe: Vietnamese Spring Roll Noodle Bowl (Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong) by Pinch of Chic

A beautiful and fresh Southern Vietnamese dish— consisting of layers of goodness. From vermicelli, pork marinated with lemongrass, to healthy mixed greens and crunchy, golden spring rolls. Topped with crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables and fish sauce to compliment the delicious dish.

Le Narcisse Blanc

creative direction, photography & editing
CYNTHIA NGUYEN photo assistance GAVIN MACKEN in collaboration with LE NARCISSE BLANC

OVERVIEW

Nestled in the heart of Paris on the charming and open street of Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg in the 7th District, sits a contemporary-classic 5 star boutique hotel and spa called, Le Narcisse Blanc. It’s truly the authentic experience if you’re searching for a boutique property with a romantic Parisian flare while still remaining completely contemporary. 

Branding and interior architecture was designed by Laurent Bardet and Laurence Jean from Laurent and Laurence, while Thierry Martin and Thibaut Fron of  Compiegne-based, Exclusive Interiors by T&T, executed the interior design for the hotel property.

ROOMS

Behind the doors of Le Narcisse Blanc, they offer 37 rooms that each take on a feel of a private classic Parisian apartment, drawing inspiration from Parisian cafe society with their signature powder pink hues and gold details, with high regal panelled walls with ornate wainscoting that evoke French design, complimented with fresh florals to bring out a soft yet glamorous ambience. The rooms offered are sound proofed, with complimentary high-speed wifi, includes a flat screen TV and fully-stocked mini bar. Amongst the previously mentioned are the basic items, such as a safe, iron and ironing board, welcome products with an exclusive fragrance, complimentary water, tea and Nespresso coffee. Other requests that may not be obvious to guests are shoe shine request and alarm call upon request. Housekeeping also comes twice a day, including turndown service. They will come to your room and check if you need anything, if not— they are always prepared with loads of French chocolat to give out. As for the bathrooms, it includes rain-effect shower, hair dryer, luxury bathrobes and slippers for your feet.

Featured room above is their Superior Room.

ESSENTIALS

18h to 3h Room Service, 24h Front Desk, WIFI, Air conditioning, Valet parking, In-room childcare, Restaurant and Bar, Luggage Storage, Meeting Room, Indoor Swimming Pool, Hammam and Sauna, Spa Services, Fitness Centre, Night in a Vineyard (a wine tasting visit at the Domaine de la Soucherie Valley, which is 2h30 away from the hotel)

HIGHLIGHTS

A delicious continental buffet breakfast is served every morning (or can be requested for Room Service) at the Cléo Restaurant on the main level of the hotel, including tasty baked treats like pain au chocolat and croissants, an array of meats and fromages, fruits of the day and likely the best French-toast you’ll ever have. By no means did I mention this tip about the toast because it’s a review in collaboration with the hotel, but because it was genuinely better than anything I’ve tasted in the form of this choice of breakfast item in Toronto! Guests can enjoy the beautiful on-site restaurant Cléo, headed by Chef Zachary Gavillet from Canada, for lunch and dinner— which also includes daily newspapers for your pleasure to pick up and read.

The intimate spa, wooden sauna and incredible indoor counter-current pool that also has a waterfall and a jacuzzi can be found in the lowest level, where you can enjoy a nice swim after a long day of being a flâneur. The spa offers a mix of facials and body treatments, such as deep-tissue Swiss massages. For warmer days, you can pop outside their courtyard patio to enjoy a drink or two.

From a personal highlight, upon my arrival at the hotel, I was delivered a decadent looking hazelnut mouse dessert to my room that tasted amazing as it looked by their wonderful staff as a sweet welcome greeting.

GOOD TO KNOW

The hotel property sits on the street of Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg, which intersects Rue Saint-Dominique where you can catch a beautiful and non-typical/touristy street view of the Eiffel Tower. Tons of brasseries and cafes nearby that are less than 500m away. Invalides and Tour-Maubourg Metro Stations are a 5-minute walk from the property. For history lovers (and Picasso lovers too, there is currently a featured exhibition on the top level dedicated to his early and most popular works), Musée de L’Armée is a 8-minute walk. For romantic artwork (specifically sculptures by Auguste Rodin) Musée Rodin is a 12-minute walk. To enjoy a boat cruise along the river Seine, the port is a 16-minute walk. For Eiffel Tower, it is a 15-minute walk from Le Narcisse Blanc & Spa. 

LOCATION

19 Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg, 75007 Paris, France

RATES

Classic Room starting at €294 / Superior Room starting at €338 / Deluxe Room starting at €390 / Executive Room starting at €434 / Classic Suite starting at €699 / Aurore Suites starting at €772 / Cleo Suites starting at €736 / Suite Toits de Paris starting at €736

BOOKING

For information or booking, visit their website and Instagram

A special thank you to the entire staff and property for hosting my wonderful stay during my time in Paris.

Although it was only for two days, it definitely felt as though I started my 48 hours in Paris as a first-time visitor properly— not too touristy, no big chain hotels. But instead, began my experience by staying at one of the upmost charming, Parisian boutique properties, filled with simple luxuries.

As always, all opinions are my own.

Away with Hazelton


creative direction & editing CYNTHIA NGUYEN photography VINCENT KO in collaboration with HAZELTON HOTEL

Donned with velvet, emerald couches in the lounge and serving exquisite Boston vanilla bean cream donuts on the menu— this boutique hotel will capture your heart. And not because it’s in the heart of Yorkville. Whether it’s for work, pleasure or play, the Hazelton Hotel doesn’t stop at expressing luxury at their hotel doors. The ever-so captivating Yorkville neighbourhood that surrounds the property is fastened with the best designer boutiques such as Corbo Studio and TNT Fashion, galleries, bars and restaurants. Uncover Toronto’s first true luxury hotel in one of most desirable destinations in the city— with 77 comfortable, oversized luxury hotel rooms and suites designed by award-winning and internationally renowned, Yabu Pushelberg firm.

From the spacious, granite bathrooms that is accompanied with your own personal television to watch your favourite soap opera, to the heated granite floors, to the L’Occitane en Provence bath sugar cubes and toiletries. The bathroom alone will make you want to make yourself at home or at least get you calling it your own private sanctuary. The 24-hour room service is catered by the ONE restaurant, headed by celebrity Chef Mark McEwan— which is by far, one of my favourite restaurants in the city. I often catch myself re-ordering their Shakshouka, spaghetti with meatballs and Boston cream doughnuts. They also have an amazing tea selection by Sloan.

 

in this photo
jacket BALMAIN
trousers PETER COHEN
courtesy of TNT FASHION

There’s something about the property being farther away from the downtown core, from where I live and work, that makes this escape seem more like believable and simple getaway for me. Sounds like the perfect mini vacation from home. To leave the city freely and travel away from the seasonal blues is not easy for most. Where there is rest and wellness to be restored, the space around you does heavily contribute to your recovery. For me, the spacious size of the rooms (and closet) allowed me to feel free to move around in and all the modern interior and details felt as though you were staying in an enhanced version of your home.

 

 

 

 

in this photo
top ALEXIS
skirt HELMUT LANG
boots NICHOLAS KIRKWOOD
bag DANSE LENTE
courtesy of TNT FASHION

 

With a bed so soft, you’ll sleep through your alarm— especially with the hotel’s L’Occitane en Provence lavender pillow mist to help you have a better rest, (although the fact the curtains of the room open electronically with the flick of the switch made it hard to contain my excitement to open them in the morning) and a bathroom so beautiful, you’ll definitely want to make time for a bath. For someone who doesn’t own a bathtub in their home, this was a huge opportunity for me to take advantage of. I made some tea, brought a book and called room service to bring some extra bubble cubes for the bath and they kindly and promptly provided.

 

 

Although my made up staycation itinerary only covered 24 hours, the use of those hours offered good rest, an extravagant bubble bath and an amazing breakfast in bed.

But let’s face it— the true meaning of relaxation doesn’t exist without a few hours at the spa. The Valmont Spa at the Hazelton offers world-class facial treatments, luxurious body treatment and specialized massages designed to release stress and toxins. You have access to the steam room, indoor saltwater pool and gym. For more than 30 years, Valmont does not only hold one of the most premium range of advanced performing cosmetics and skincare products from Switzerland but has also been deploying all of its know-how in the field of anti-aging with profession care combining expertise, product performance, and accuracy of gestures.

I had the great pleasure of enjoying the last few hours of my time at the Hazelton hotel by ending it off with a facial and a collagen face mask by Marie Nguyen. A skin consultation was performed, followed by a facial cleanse using Valmont’s purification White Falls cleaner and White Falls invigoration softening toner. Next, Marie used Valmont’s purification face scrub mixed with Valmont’s clarifying cream mask— this combination is great for those with extremely sensitive skin when you’re looking to exfoliate.

The priming with a hydrating fluid is then used before using the V-line lifting cream mask to reduce the look of lines and wrinkles on the face. The lifting mask is then removed for Marie to proceed with applying the Valmont’s prime renewing pack, which promotes anti-stress and fatigue and produces that immediate glow. With the renewing pack, the regenerating collagen mask went over top for 20 minutes to rejuvenate the skin, causing the skin to lift, hydrate and smooth out— during this stage, a nice scalp and hand massage was done. Lastly, Marie removed the mask to apply Valmont’s eye cream (used to replenish the skin’s volume around the eye and treat puffiness and dark circles), v-line serum, face cream and lifting cream. It’s safe to say that may be the most intensive yet best facial I’ve had so far. A shout out to Marie Nguyen for walking me through the steps and providing such a personal and amazing experience during our session.

 

in this photo
coat FILIPPA K pants VINCE
top NATALIJA heels DONALD J PLINER
courtesy of CORBO STUDIO

 

in this photo
sweater MALENE BIRGER
dress BROCHU WALKER
boots DONALD J PLINER
courtesy of CORBO STUDIO

A special thank you to the entire staff and property for hosting my wonderful staycation.
My stay was extremely short but the rich experience exceeded beyond my own expectations. 
 
As always, all opinions are my own.
 
 
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L’Interdit


creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN photography VINCENT KO in creation for GIVENCHY

Forbid yourself nothing. Allow no rules. An invitation to defy convention and embrace your singularity.
 

In 1957, L’interdit was a perfume originally created for Audrey Hepburn by Hubert de Givenchy. The word interdit is French for “forbidden.” When Hubert de Givenchy asked if he could commercialize it, legend has it, Hepburn replied “Je vous l’interdis!,” which translates to “I forbid you!”

 

 

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don’t call me lucky

creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN 
photography VINCENT KO 
in collaboration with ANN TAYLOR

“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”

— Shonda Rhimes

_______________________________

 

Here’s the deal.. if I had it my way, I would buy my entire Fall wardrobe each and every time the new year rolls in. But like most people, whether it’s cost or closet real estate—that’s not my reality. That being said, this reality leads me to be highly selective with the pieces I choose to invest in for years to come and all season long.

Having been a loyal fan to Ann Taylor since the start of my university days, I’ve teamed up with them on their “let’s work together” campaign to share with you my favourite modern, versatile picks from their Fall line.

The thing to know about Ann Taylor is that they’re not just a one-stop shop for a basic suit, but they’ve evolved the concept of “work dress code” for modern women like myself, by offering pieces that can be taken from 9am to 9pm and on— staple turtle necks that can be used every year, to minimal wrap coats, topped with trend-forward trousers, paired with sleek, pointed toe kicks.

If you’re looking for something to wear for an interview, a presentation or even a celebratory promotion dinner, Ann Taylor pretty much covers all the basics and sophisticated, on-trend pieces to play with and get you prepared for all of your occasions. The idea of staying in one outfit for work, dinner and attending a party is considered effective if you’re able to use the same pieces to adapt to any situation or place and have it stretched beyond your 9-5. And who doesn’t want to look like the most polished yet still feminine one in the room? I wouldn’t mind flaunting my work pieces and admitting to coming from work. x

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