I am guilty of spending too much time in the condiment aisle at Asian markets. In fact, my husband told me he was going to Target while I perused Shun Fat (Thuan Phat) market in Garden Grove’s Little Saigon. It’s part of a chain of mega Vietnamese-Chinese markets in California, Nevada and Texas.
The condiment aisle is long and filled with a vast array of Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and a few Japanese ingredients. I’ve been to this market many times and always look at the fish sauce first. On this trip, I bought a new brand I’d never seen before from Vietnam. The surprises had to do with Maggi Seasoning sauce, a popular cult condiment. What I found were a Nestle version produced in Vietnam(!) and a Vietnamese-French knockoff. I also bought a “vegetarian” version from Vietnam. “I see what we’ll be tasting when we get home,” Rory said when we looked into my shopping cart.
When we returned home, I opened up the Vietnamese Maggi to serve with dinner. Nestle makes Maggi seasoning sauce for specific audiences and each one is a little different. What would the one for Vietnam taste like?
I knew that this bottle was truly from Vietnam because the label was mostly in Vietnamese and the bottle itself was flimsy, a bit squishy, made from thin plastic like you’d find in Vietnam. But Nestle, which owns Maggi, made the product. I was gleeful.