PRESIDENT Barack Obama made a warm display of cultural enrichment yesterday during a meal at a popular noodle restaurant in Hanoi as part of his maiden visit to Vietnam.
Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain on Monday posted photographs on his Instagram account of him and the president dining on noodles and chilled Vietnamese beer at Bún chả Hương Liên in the capital.
The images showed a casual dine-in, with Obama and Bourdain seated on blue plastic chairs, and the local delicacy served on a small table.
In the Instagram post, Bourdain said: “The president’s chopstick skills are on point.” He also noted the meal cost a grand total of US$6 (133,950 Vietnamese dong), and that he “picked up the check”.
Total cost of bun Cha dinner with the President: $6.00 . I picked up the check . #Hanoi
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) May 23, 2016
According to TIME, the dinner session is scheduled to appear on an upcoming episode of Bourdain’s TV series, ‘Parts Unknown’, on CNN. In the show, Bourdain dines at local eateries around the world.
@Bourdain New position for the resume: Secretary of Nom
— Jenn (@CarbZombie) May 23, 2016
@Bourdain this is the coolest thing ever! Can't wait to see the episode!
— Christine S (@cristynes) May 23, 2016
Obama started his visit to Vietnam on Monday looking to bolster trade ties with the government and meet with dissidents and pushes for greater human rights freedoms from the one-party state. He also lifted a decades-long arms embargo on the country several hours before meeting Bourdain.
At a state luncheon in Hanoi in Obama’s honor, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang thanked Obama for traveling so far to help achieve “another crucial milestone” in the U.S.-Vietnam relationship.
Quang spoke of the long effort to “overcome profound grievances” from the war years, and quoted a Ho Chi Minh saying about welcoming the “warm spring” that follows a cold winter.
In addition to lifting the arms embargo, Obama also announced on Tuesday the agreement with Vietnam that will see the Peace Corps set up English-language training programs in the country’s two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Officials from both sides signed an agreement that will bring an initial group of about 20 Peace Corps volunteers to Vietnam starting next year.
Additional reporting by Associated Press