Owner of Vietnamese Noodle Shop Where Bourdain Ate With Obama Shares Sadness at Chef's Death

Anthony Bourdain - Build Series - Getty - H 2017
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"[Anthony] was a nice, friendly and folksy person," said the owner of the Hanoi restaurant. "He praised our bun cha dish and its fish-sauce broth, he loved Vietnamese food."

The owner of a Hanoi noodle shop where Anthony Bourdain slurped down “bun cha” and sipped cold beer with Barack Obama has shared her shock and sorrow over the world-traveling celebrity chef's death.

"I was surprised and sad when I heard about [Bourdain]," Nguyen Thi Nga told AFP news agency in Hanoi.

Her restaurant, Bun Cha Huong Lien, became a popular tourist destination in the Vietnamese capital after Bourdain dined there with then-President Obama for an episode of his Emmy-winning CNN food and travel show, Parts Unknown.

"He was a nice, friendly and folksy person," Nga said. "He praised our bun cha dish and its fish-sauce broth, he loved Vietnamese food," she added.

Vietnam was one of Bourdain's most beloved travel destinations. He also visited the country for two episodes of his earlier Travel Channel show No Reservations, calling it “one of his favorite places on earth." He once said he would like to relocate to Vietnam to write when he retires. 

In 2016, Bourdain brought Obama to Nga's simple shop in Hanoi's leafy Old Quarter. The pair famously sat on plastic stools and shared a $6 meal of pork noodles, fried spring rolls and cheap local beer.

The table where the duo sat and ate, complete with dinner set and empty beer bottles, was later encased in glass and placed on permanent display in the restaurant. "The customers love it; many take photos next to the table," Nga told the BBC earlier this year. "For us, it is a nice memory that we will cherish forever," she added.

Obama tweeted a tribute to Bourdain on Friday, sharing a picture of their meal together, which he had squeezed in during an official state visit to Hanoi near the end of his presidency.  

Bourdain was found dead in a hotel room in France on Friday of an apparent suicide.