Yuki Chan made Hue dishes for sale
Yuki Chan, a young man from Huong Vinh Commune, Huong Tra District (to the north of Hue), has lived in Japan for 8 years. He realized that it was difficult to find a restaurant of Hue specialty in Japan. For this, he often made Hue dishes for friends after work.
“My dishes have been praised and appreciated, especially Bun bo Hue (Hue beef vermicelli). This really inspired me and I took up a new way of earning, that is, making and selling Bun bo Hue online,” said Yuki Chan.
Unlike Yuki, Dang Thi Hai Yen has inherited the passion and skills of cooking from her chef father in Thuan An (the coastal district of Phu Vang). The Facebook account of the 9x-generation girl has been overwhelmed with delicious dishes.
“As a Hue-born person, I can never forget the taste of the hometown dishes. I remember I once felt like eating tre (fermented boiled pork), so I called my mother for a recipe. To my surprise, when I upload the product on Facebook, many people got interested and wanted to buy. Then I started to sell tre,” said Hai Yen.
Hai Yen’s tre in Japan
Not only nem (fermented raw pork), tre (fermented boiled pork) and bun bo (beef vermicelli), but also other Hue specialties reminded the young expatriates of their hometown tastes. To make the food picture more attractive, Truong Thi Ngoc Nu living in Kitaku, Tokyo, has tried to start up with banh ep and bun mam nem.
On the fanpage of the Society of Hue compatriots in Japan, there are many photos of Hue dishes advertised for sale. Most of these have been prepared by young people. While some of them make money from preparing these dishes as a part-time job, others dedicate all their passion and live on selling Hue specialties abroad.
The dishes of hometown memories
Different as they are in their starts-up, young people from Hue all have a wish to make their hometown tastes known to the diners abroad. To this end, Yuki Chan, for example, had to learn to make cha (sausage) to make the soup for bun bo (beef vermicelli) distinctive.
He said: “It is not easy to prepared the soup for bun bo Hue of standard taste in a far-off country. I had to learn how to make crab pie from my aunt with the hope that the soup would taste good.”
A variant of banh ep
Moreover, it is not easy to deliver the client with a perfect dish, Yuki put the ingredients separately
Especially, the soup was kept in a thermo bag and delivered to the loyal diners. The young man has to ride a bike as it is the most suitable vehicle for food delivery. It is very hard to park a motorbike in Japan and the local people often take a subway ride.
“Sometimes, I get exhausted after delivering the food to a diner living quite far away. Fortunately, I am happy to get positive feedback in return, and the exhaustion has gone,” he said.
It is also a challenge to look for the ingredients. For bun mam nem and banh ep, Ngoc Nu has to buy things from three different stores. She has also adjusted the dish to be suitable to the temperature and eating habits of the locals. For example, the papaya is replaced by radish in the fermented salad, cucumber in banh ep by lettuce to avoid fluid retention.
Dang Thi Hai Yen has a different problem. She has to cut the pork ears, galangal root and garlic into small pieces manually. She said: “Galangal root is rare in Japan, and I had to search a Thai grocery store for some. For each batch of tre, I only earn around VND 600-800, which is actually my wage rather than the profit.” The amount is very little compared to the expensive cost in Japan. It is true that she sells food for passion.
Despite the difficulties, these young people find it happy to have a chance to make hometown dishes and to talk with the fellows. Yuki Chan even decided to quit the job and planned to open a restaurant specializing Hue food in Japan.
He said: “My dream is to have a restaurant chain that only sells Hue dishes throughout Japan, ranging from bun bo (‘beef vermicelli’) to banh beo, banh nam, banh loc, nem lui and even bun hen (‘mussel vermicelli’).
Story: MAI HUE – Photos provided by the insiders