In a 2016 episode of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN series Parts Unknown, the chef turned TV-host traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam, and while there, he dined with none other than America’s 44th president Barack Obama. The absurdly cool pair chowed down on bún chả, a grilled pork and rice noodle dish, while chatting about their world travels and showing off their chopstick skills. Nearly two years have passed since they met for that meal, but their place settings appear to have remained nearly untouched. That's right, according to a recently shared Instagram photo, the restaurant where Bourdain and Obama ate bún chả has memorialized the meeting in a very strange way.
Yesterday, Anthony Bourdain posted a photo of the same small square table at Bún chả Hương Liên restaurant, where he ate with President Obama back in 2016. Now, though, the table is encased in glass. Though the dishes that sit on the table are clean, they seem to be arranged in a similar way to how they sat when Bourdain and Obama were dining there. There are even two empty bottles of the same kind of beer the two men ordered during their visit. Sitting inside the glass there are also two tiny blue stools, which Bourdain noted to have sat one while filming the episode. Looking at a photo of table taken now next to a photo of the table from the 2016 episode of Parts Unknown feels like one of those spot the difference picture games.
While some restaurants choose to memorialize meetings between famous diners by putting up a plaque, Bún chả Hương Liên restaurant chose to preserve the moment by preventing anyone else from ever eating in the spot. Based on his Instagram caption, Bourdain seems to have mixed emotions about the restaurant's decision. Accompanying the picture, he simply wrote, "Not sure how to feel about this."
We get where Bourdain's coming from. On the one hand, the gesture seems a little over the top. The restaurant already seemed to be located in a bit of a cramped space, so one less table at a now TV-famous restaurant probably isn't the best thing for business We also have to wonder if Obama and Bourdain's DNA remain on those beer bottles. If so, it feels a bit creepy. On the other hand, we totally get wanting to memorialize this moment.