Loan Nguyen is one of the stars of Thai television. First appearing on national television late last year, Loan Nguyen quickly became a favorite on most social media platforms, as well as being listed on Best Buy’s website as one of the best-selling women’s chefs in the world. However, before her star turn on Thai television, Loan Nguyen was little more than an ordinary health insurance broker.
Born and raised in Thailand, Loan Nguyen studied medicine in Thailand before moving to the United States to complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas. Following her education, she briefly worked as a counselor in a New Jersey hospital, and then began pursuing her culinary career by attending the Culinary Institute of America, which is owned by the Culinary Institute of America.
Loan Nguyen’s journey from student to culinary star has now brought her to a whole new world of fame – Thai food. Born into a cooking family, Loan N Nguyen developed an appreciation for spicy and sour Thai food over the course of her life. She describes her love of Thai food as “indulgence”, which she infuses in her dishes. “I want people to be able to look at my food and say, ‘Oh, it’s that good,’ ” she states. Although the Thai food that she serves on her shows is not exactly the same as authentic Thai fare – it is by no means ‘authentic’ – N Nguyen’s passion for this cuisine has created an enthusiastic following among people across the world.
Much like any chef, Loan N Nguyen loves to source her ingredients from local markets in Los Angeles, where she travels frequently. Unlike many modern food chefs, Loan N Nguyen’s favourite ingredient for her Thai inspired cooking is a type of fruit that is slightly blacked out – hence the name, black pepper. Her choice of spices is vast, as she believes that there is no “wrong” spice for Thai food: “Spice is always spice.” As with many things in life, loan N Nguyen is open to listening to what other people have to say about any given spice or combination of spices that might be used in her cooking: “I try them all,” she says.
Loan N Nguyen’s restaurant, Ma Maison, is located in the trendy Chinatown area of Los Angeles. The restaurant is designed around a theme of eclectic interiors – and indeed most of the ingredients are either found in recycled containers throughout the restaurant, or on the tabletops and countertops. “I’m sort of a renegade cook,” she admits.
What makes Ma Maison unique is its use of authentic materials and techniques throughout the restaurant. The dining area is wooden tabletops, for example, while chairs are fabric covered with leatherette. “I made sure to put a lot of thought into the upholstery,” she states. “We could be sitting at this table twenty years from now and people would still be blown away by it.” Her creative idea of upholstery also includes a wall hanging of the names of the dishes that were served in the restaurant.
In the kitchen, loan traces her influences from France, Germany and Portugal, especially their use of smoked meat and cured meat. She serves dishes such as Portugal’s sausage with peas, potatoes and chorizo – which is simply the first of its kind in the world. Loan’s German dish, called “Rhein sausage” is brushed with butter, rolled in flour, fried into pieces of raw potato and then served on the diner’s table. While her Portuguese inspiration, “Jardine do tempo,” uses a tangy concoction of onion, garlic and herbs, her German meal, ” Kellerbierwurst, is marinated in apple cider vinegar and smoked pork shoulder.”
Other dishes in loan’s menu draw from cultures around the world, including Indian food, Middle Eastern fare, Japanese sushi, South American cuisines and French cuisine. As you can imagine, she puts a lot of thought into her menus and what she serves. For instance, her Thai inspired menu includes “nuat malaki” (beef stew), “tahu panga” (fish curry) and “braised goat curry.”
The talented loan slicer also uses ingredients such as cornstarch and egg whites to make noodles for her Thai inspired menu. She utilizes a pressed paper towel to cover the bottom of the noodles as she applies them to the surface, then she uses egg white to cover the top to seal the noodles in place. Loan has concocted her own unique Thai sauce to accompany her dishes. It’s a tasty combination of coconut milk, onions, garlic and ginger, then it’s topped off with sesame oil and fish sauce. If you’re in search of a truly innovative Asian cuisine restaurant that features a menu like loan’s, then look no further!
The tangled web of Nguyen Ngoc Loan and the Tet Offensive
Vietnam veteran and aviator Nguyen Ngoc Loan is dead. The swift-tempered South Vietnamese Republic president whose impromptu execution of an unarmed Cong civilian on a crowded street in the Tetoffensive of 1968 helped to galvanize American opinion against the war. In his book, Time and the Way of Killings, Vietnam’s last war president described the execution as a “green light for mass murder.”
A week later, US president Johnson signed the Foreign Assistance Act authorizing the provision of financial and other assistance to Vietnam to facilitate the nation’s transition to democracy. At first, Loan’s execution stirred anger and controversy in the United States and around the world but after the passage of this legislation, Americans saw no reason to withhold their support.
On Nov. 17th, 1969, Nguyen Ngoc Loan was assassinated by unidentified persons while riding in a car in San Francisco. Reports from the time indicated that Loan had been mentally unstable and that his personal and political enemies were behind the murder. One witness said that there were eight shots fired by the assailants who were wearing masks. Loan’s widow, Tran Ngoc, told the San Francisco Examiner at the time that her husband had dementia and that he could not have possibly had a role in her husband’s death.
Was Nguyen Ngoc Loan a victim of a hit squad? The killing may have been a hit squad operation gone bad. Two or more suspects may have been involved. This is one possibility raised by some investigative reporters who were in Saigon covering the Tet Offensive. However, there are other possibilities as well.
Some speculate that Nguyen Ngoc may have been killed by a hit squad sent to eliminate one of the VC guerrilla leaders from the north. According to some accounts, Nguyen Ngoc was being looked over by another guerrilla leader while he was in a car with several others. At some point, the other guerrilla decided he wanted to go with the group, but Ngoc was not interested. He waved them away and stated that he would return to the North and wait for further instructions.
There are several stories that described how Ngoc was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese general who engineered the Tet Offensive. Many claimed that Ngoc was tortured prior to his death. Some even suggested that he was scalped. A close friend of Ngoc’s who was captured and later killed in prison, Thuy Tu Dinh, claimed in an interview with investigative reporters that Ngoc was present when this happened and that he was present during the first round of executions. There have also been varying accounts of how Ngoc died.
No account has been totally verified as to how Ngoc died. There is a possibility that he was executed right at the end of the Tet Offensive when his comrades were rounded up, summarily executed, and taken to the prisoner camp. Another possibility is that he escaped from his captors and hid somewhere for some time before being recaptured and killed by the South Vietnamese forces. It is also possible that he was captured and executed along with other prisoners of war, including some high ranking officials of the communist North Vietnam. No account has ever confirmed the manner in which Ngoc died.
A number of Americans were incarcerated in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. American prisoners of war also provided information to the Americans that helped to speed up the victory of the south Vietnamese in that city. In fact, American servicemen were among the first to provide intelligence to the Americans fighting in Vietnam. Of course, many were held in prison camps. Still, there are many accounts of American servicemen who ended up alive after being rescued by American servicemen.
It seems clear that there were some collaboration between the Ngan brothers and the Americans in their defection to the South Vietnamese air force. However, there has been no clear evidence as to how Ngoc died or exactly where he was executed. Some speculate that he was executed in a massacre style execution similar to those conducted during the Vietnam War. One story is that General Loan met Ngoc and offered to pay off his debt, which ultimately led to Ngoc’s death.