Insider’s View. Episode 6 – Mischa Smith
Episode 6 of Insider’s View comes from a guy who might just love good beer even more than my husband, Tim. Mischa Smith, like many other expats here, arrived as a teacher and stayed because he loved Saigon so much. Has he landed his dream job or what? “Head Sales Dude” for the Pasteur Brewing Company! You know the one. It’s on our list of favourite bars! Take it away Mischa.
Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Mischa Smith, and I’m from Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.
How long have you been living in Ho Chi Minh City?
A little over three years.
What do you do?
I’m the National Sales Manager for Pasteur Street Brewing Company. We’ve been making American style craft beers with a distinctly Vietnamese twist for about a year and a half.
Why did you choose Ho Chi Minh City to live?
I initially moved to Vietnam to teach English after coming on vacation and falling in love with Saigon. I was really excited when Pasteur Street brought real craft beer to complete the final piece of my puzzle for Vietnam. Our co-founder John Reid had been living here for six years and had the idea of bringing world class craft beer to Vietnam by bringing in an American Brewmaster, Alex Violette. Alex was able to use his creativity and imagination to make the most of all of the wonderful, exotic flavours that Vietnamese fruits and spices have to offer. The beer was so good that I knew I had to be a part of it somehow and so started out by volunteering behind the bar and being paid in beer!
What do you love about Ho Chi Minh City?
I get this question all of the time from friends and family who have never been here. Everyone who comes here to visit automatically understands. This place (the food, the nightlife, the chaos, the overall FEELING that you get when you’re here) is perfectly suited to my personality. Short answer: everything.
Are there any negatives and how can visitors avoid them?
There are negatives to be found about any place in the world. Just be safe and smart and do some research before you come. (Editor’s Hint: Sign up for my newsletter to receive insider knowledge, tips, trick and special offers)
What are your favourite foods and restaurants and why?
My favourite restaurant is a little Vietnamese BBQ joint on the Saigon River that I don’t want to share for fear of it being overrun by foreigners and tourists. I will give a hint, though – Fat Quang’s.
(Editor: Sorry folks. I held him down and tried to make him talk, but short of cutting off his beer supply, nothing worked. And, I just couldn’t do that to him. I will make my inquiries, though, and if I find out the secret I’ll be sure to let you all know.)
What are your favourite nightspots?
Besides Pasteur Street? All of the other places that serve our beer! One of the things that first drew me to the city was the vast array of different bars and restaurants you could find. From very swanky and expensive, to the nastiest little dive bars. Best to be discovered on your own.
What are your favourite things to do in your spare time that visitors would love too?
I don’t have much spare time these days. But I definitely think you should get out and see other parts of Vietnam while you’re here. My work has enabled me to go to places that I hadn’t previously had the pleasure of visiting, and there are many wonderful parts of Vietnam to explore from Sapa in the North all the way down to Phu Quoc Island. Get out there and see as much as you can!
What are the top 5 things you feel every visitor should do when they come to Ho Chi Minh City?
I’m not much for touristy things. In my opinion, you should make sure to try as many different Vietnamese dishes as you can. And, when you’ve done that, try out some of the many, many amazing international restaurants available. You’ll never have a dull meal in Vietnam. And, for a completely different beer experience than the kind we offer, make sure you find a little Bia Hoi (fresh beer). They’re common in many cities, but a little harder to find here in Saigon. An intrepid explorer, keen on tracking down an authentic Bia Hoi experience, should focus their efforts on the Thi Sach/Thai Van Lung streets area in District 1.
Editor’s Note: Cheers Mischa for that info. I hope you all enjoyed his insider’s tips. If you’re out and about Saigon, having a cold beer, don’t be surprised if you run into him. And, I will try and find his secret BBQ place and let you all know – I promise.
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