Last week on the 11th and 12th of February, SAIGON KISS celebrated the eagerly anticipated “Year of the Dragon”, co-organized with Thuy Pham. The two-day event took place at KID Amsterdam. We deliberately selected this location because of the restaurants’ deeply rooted passion and inspiration drawn from its founders’ Asian heritage.

Marking the beginning of the Lunar New Year, in Vietnamese known as “Tết”, abbreviated from Tết Nguyên Đán, meaning ‘Festival of the first day,’ holds paramount significance in Vietnamese culture and resonates among Vietnamese individuals in the Vietnamese diaspora. As second-generation descendants of refugees and immigrants established in the Netherlands, part of the community is well-acquainted with this celebration, cherishing profound memories. This occasion served as an exploration into community’s perspectives on the future of Vietnamese traditions. What does Tết mean to us? How do we wish to celebrate it?

Bánh chưng workshop by Papa and Mama Lê & Yến-Nhi Lê

During the workshop, SAIGON KISS community learned the step-by-step process of making bánh chưng, but also delved into the cultural and historical significance behind each ingredient and technique. This dish is a treasured tradition, passed down from generation to generation, which is why one of the founders had invited both their parents to share their knowledge. After a thoroughly presentation on Bánh chưng, sharing meaningful experiences with each other and Papa Lê’s tutorial, it was time for the participants to make their own bánh chưng.

“It was beautiful to learn more about the cultural meaning behind bánh chưng, meeting the community behind it and seeing how open they are to learn more about their roots. The fact that the workshop was given in collaboration with Nhi’s parents was so meaningful, I can’t wait until next time!”.”, Yin Fung (ELLE)

Tết dinner by chef Tessa Yến Nguyễn

The second day saw indulgence in an unforgettable Lunar New Year celebration with a 4-course Tết inspired dinner. Hosted in an intimate setting, guests gathered around two long tables adorned with Vietnamese décor and beautiful flowers, setting the stage for a truly immersive dining experience.

Tessa Yến expertly crafted each course, showcasing the vibrant flavors and authentic techniques of modern Vietnamese cuisine. From tantalizing appetizers to hearty mains and decadent desserts, every dish was a feast for the senses, reflecting the spirit of renewal and prosperity synonymous with the Lunar New Year.

“We had all kinds of Vietnamese dishes that you simply cannot find in any restaurant in NL. Everything that got served on the table was very much worth it. We just kept eating, nothing was “just okay”.”, Jonneke de Zeeuw (Mooncake.nl)

The night ended beyond culinary delights with traditional Tết activities such as lotto (commonly known as bingo) and karaoke. Guests went home with lucky red envelopes, new friends and beautiful stories to share. It was all about celebrating and embracing Vietnamese culture through food, conversation and togetherness. What a way to start off the new lunar year.

For more information and to stay updated follow Saigon Kiss on @saigon.kiss

Photo credits: Alex “Trés Cool” Dobé – @alextrescool Video credits: Quang Trần – @q.uang