Last night, after a month and a half in Saigon with no Saigon Xanh, I had a couple of bottles. It was delicious.
To those who aren’t aware, Xanh means green, so this beer is translated into English as Green Saigon (as opposed to Red Saigon and Saigon Special).
I don’t know why, but there seems to be a trend of moving away from Saigon Xanh and all of the restaurants and drinking establishments that I’ve been to since I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City don’t serve Saigon Xanh anymore.
I had my start in Vietnam in Long Xuyên, in the Mekong Delta, and the standard beer for most places was Saigon Xanh. Sadly, even in Long Xuyên now, the trend is catching on and some of my old haunts have stopped serving Saigon Xanh.
For me however, Saigon Xanh and drinking are synonymous: it is the beer. It has a lower alcohol content that other beers so you can keep going longer, it comes in a bigger bottle than other beers and it’s cheaper than most other beers. It has everything, which is why I don’t understand places that refuse to serve it. Some of my buddies in Long Xuyên and I even changed the words of this song to: “Sài Gòn đẹp lắm, Sài Gòn Xanh, Sài Gòn Xanh!”
Last night a friend texted me and we arranged to meet up for some drinks, on the condition that they served Saigon Xanh and we were the only foreigners at the establishment. He agreed and we went traveling into unknown territory on the border between District 5 and District 10. We stopped by a couple places, but they didn’t serve Saigon Xanh. Then we saw a sign down a small alley and stopped by and asked. While we were asking I noticed an elderly man sitting alone and drinking a Saigon Xanh. This was the place!
The bottles were served very cold and the first sip after such a long time was amazingly refreshing. For tradition, and to fight against the onslaught of profit mongering, drink Saigon Xanh.