J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Great Vietnamese Food & Entertainment This Weekend at Tết

What’s your favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Louisville?...Beside Vietnam Kitchen.  I know it’s an American favorite, but you don’t see many Vietnamese eating there for a reason.  While the menu is large and the food decent, it’s not great Vietnamese food.  Here’s my analogy, it’s like going to McDonald’s for a generic burger vs. grilling your own juicy burger at home or invite yourself over to your neighbor’s house for same such delicious burger.  If you’re looking to expand your food comfort zone a bit and venture into someone else’s backyard for a juicy burger, er.. great Vietnamese food, you’re in luck.  This weekend isTết or Vietnamese New year Celebration and the perfect time to do so.

Every year, the Vietnamese Community of Louisville Inc. coordinates Tet for a community of 10,000+ people, attendance is around 400+ people.  It is the one event of the year that brings everyone in the community together to celebrate our cultural tradition and heritage.  Full disclosure, I’m on the Board so you’re getting some inside info!

Iroquois High School
4615 Taylor Blvd
Louisville, KY 40215

Auditorium & Cafeteria 
(Look for the big yellow and red banner at the door)

4:00 – 8 p.m.  official time
5:00 – 9 p.m.  rubber band time
We coin the term “rubber band time” to describe the tendency of Vietnamese people to show up  30 minutes or even an hour late to an event.  The program will start at 4 p.m., but usually the place will not get very crowded until 5 p.m.
Traditional ao dai. Photo by Nicole V.

What to Expect 
A little bit of chaos.  Our community is growing.  We’re the second fastest growing minority population (after Hispanics) so expect to see a lot of tight jeans wearing teens and wailing babies.  It’s high energy, crowded and lots of people moving about, just like any public event you go too.   You’ll just feel hyper aware of it because you’ll be one of the few brave culturally curious souls there that’s non-Vietnamese.  You might think everyone is talking about you, but I guaranteed only ½ of them are.  Kidding! We applaud and welcome you for getting out of your comfort zone.   

People will talk during performances in the auditorium, groups will congregate in the cafeteria and hallways.  But that’s because this is one of the few events where people get to see each other.

The Louisville Lion Dance Team.  Feed the lions money as they dance for good luck!
Photo by: Frank B.
The entertainment lineup consist of a traditional ceremony, local singers crooning new year melodies, traditional and hip hop dances by youth groups, a raffle for a free tv, etc. Special to this year is the Mrs. Vietnamese Kentucky Pageant, its aim is to honor the role of the Vietnamese women in the family and society.  Having worked closely with the group, I’m excited to see these courageous, talented and fun loving women on stage.  Also, special to this year’s entertainment is a dance retelling one of the most epic revenge stories in the world by two Vietnamese sisters, think elephants and an epic battle to the death.

Friendly faces selling foods.  Photo by Uyen N.
What to eat
My favorite part!  This is the place to try delicious (cheap) food beyond the Vietnam Kitchen’s menu.  You’ll find homemade favorites like banh mi sandwiches, soups (usually pho or bun bo hue), rice crepes, roasted pork, grilled meat and vermicelli noodles, papaya salads, egg rolls, snacks, desserts and drinks.  Items vary from year to year.  Most of the items are pre-made and on display, so if it looks good, grab it. Not sure what it is? Ask someone, they’ll be happy to help you out.  The foods are made by individuals and nonprofit organizations looking to raise money.  Cash only.     

The food vendors will be set up in the cafeteria.  After you entered the main entrance, go straight and take a right down the hall way at the end.  Cafeteria is on your left.  Cafeteria opens at 4:30 p.m.

If you venture out, look for me.  I’ll be happy to give you a tour!  Hope to see you there!