Italian oasis

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Busy expats (especially the ladies) develop a habit of eating out when they move to Vietnam.

The food is fresh and available everywhere. And there is plenty for addicts of "international food" like French, Japanese and Italian in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

There are several good Italian restaurants in the cities but, for a change, Italian food lovers can opt to buy the ingredients and cook their own Mediterranean meals at home for family and friends.

After an extended period of eating out all the time like the men, expat ladies can get fed up with having to decide which restaurant to dine at day after day.

So where can they go to buy authentic Italian ingredients? A few staples such as pasta and olive oil can be found at the supermarkets.

But for a full range of the genuine article from cheese and pasta to cold cuts and other meat, check out The Oasis at 24 Xuan Dieu Street, Hanoi.

24 Xuan Dieu Street, Hanoi

Located on the shore of Ho Tay (West Lake), The Oasis Grocery Store & Gourmet Shop is small but has much to offer.

The first thing that catches the eye is the chicken turning in a rotisserie at the front of the store, just like in a typical delicatessen in the old country. It broadcasts the message that this is the place for authentic Italian food.

The proprietor is Marco Sarli, who spent years working on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea before moving to Vietnam and managing a Hanoi restaurant named Pane E Vino.

After a long spell in charge of the Italian eatery, Marco took the plunge and opened The Oasis in the town where he settled down and started a family of his own.

"Besides selected products from all over the world, we stock homemade products," says Marco. "To my surprise, 40 percent of our customers are Vietnamese."

The Oasis has many things to offer including cheese, cold cuts, bread, wine, fresh pasta and general groceries, and it also delivers to homes and offices, provides a catering service, and even hires out a chef to prepare delicious Italian meals in private homes.

The shop's cheese selection is most impressive, boasting as it does pecorino, romano, gorgonzola, haleggio, goat cheese and others. So too are the sausages, which range from Neapolitan salami to Hungarian sausage.

With the success in Hanoi, a second Oasis has recently opened, this one down south in the Phu My Hung area of HCMC's District 7.

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