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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ate rice in Hanoi and praised Vietnamese cuisine.

During his recent visit to Vietnam, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to a restaurant in Hanoi to enjoy a dish called “cơm tay cầm” (rice in a bowl with handles).

Nguyen Ngoc Huy, the head chef and founder of the Cơm Tay Cầm restaurant in Hanoi, told VOA Vietnamese that he received a two-day notice before Blinken’s arrival to “prepare for security” and “be attentive to the restaurant.”

Huy added that Blinken said he wanted to try the cơm tay cầm dish and chose the beer he drank.

The chef also revealed that “On that day, he was vegetarian. He had shrimp cake, coconut water simmered shrimp, and vegetarian cơm tay cầm. The first thing he said was to thank the restaurant and the chef for the delicious, fresh and unique meal. Therefore, he sincerely thanked them.”

“You can’t visit Vietnam without tasting the food. Vietnamese cuisine has some of the freshest and most delicious flavors, and we see its influence all over the United States in our restaurants. Thank you Cơm Tay Cầm for letting me taste the fantastic food at your restaurant. It was so delicious!” wrote Secretary of State Blinken on Twitter last Saturday during his official work day with many activities in Vietnam.

Mr. Huy told VOA Vietnamese about his feelings when Secretary of State Blinken visited his restaurant for a meal: “As a chef and a restaurant owner, having the Minister visit to enjoy the food is an honor, the first honor is for the chef profession and the second honor is for my restaurant.”

One day after enjoying a meal of “cơm tay cầm,” Secretary of State Blinken left for Japan on Sunday to attend the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, concluding his trip to Vietnam.

Secretary Blinken wrote on Twitter, “Thank you to the government of Vietnam and the wonderful Vietnamese people for welcoming me on my first visit as Secretary of State. We are more committed than ever to elevating the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership and working together to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

During his visit to Vietnam, Secretary Blinken met with a series of high-ranking officials of the host country, including General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and his counterpart Bui Thanh Son.

As reported by VOA Vietnamese, during the three meetings, US and Vietnamese officials discussed “ways to cooperate on regional issues including the Mekong sub-region, the climate crisis, and the South China Sea” and “the US affirmed its commitment to elevating the Comprehensive Partnership and supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” according to the US Embassy.

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong emphasized with Secretary Blinken the elements that serve as the foundation for bilateral relations, namely respecting each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political institutions, for peace, stability, development in the region and the world, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

For his part, Secretary Blinken also reiterated these principles, also according to the state news agency, and reaffirmed that “the United States values its relationship with Vietnam and desires to take the relationship to new heights.”

Secretary Blinken conveyed President Joe Biden’s invitation for General Secretary Trong to visit the United States once again. Trong is said to have accepted and proposed that the two sides arrange a suitable time. Vietnam’s highest leader also extended an invitation through Secretary Blinken for President Joe Biden to visit Vietnam, according to the Vietnam News Agency.