I am always grateful for being born and growing up in Vietnam, a country that is best known for the famous Pho Bo (Beef Noodle Soup). Besides Pho Bo, Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) is also an another signature dish that everybody loves. But do you know that Pho Bo and Banh Mi are served as street food in Vietnam, not like in fancy Vietnamese restaurants here in America?
When I first came to the United States, I craved a big bowl of hot noodle soup, but I had hard time finding an authentic-taste Vietnamese restaurants in Lincoln. Some of my friends recommended their favorite Vietnamese restaurants in town, but for some reasons they don’t taste too excellent to me. Spending almost 6 years in the US, travelling all around the country, I then realized one thing that Vietnamese food here missed is the “street atmosphere”, which is the spirit and soul of Vietnamese culture. Authentic Vietnamese food is not supposed to be fancy or served as high-end dishes. Although it’s street food, it is still very healthy and nutritious because of the enormous amount of vegetables in each dish.
Most of Vietnamese street food restaurants have open-spaced kitchens right in front of the entrance that you can see how the food is made. These kitchens are usually small but big enough for all types storage, stoves, and cooking utensils. The kitchens are so close and open to the customers that you can directly talk to the chef and order what you want. If you are in hurry, you can possibly stop by a small food kiosk on the street and order drive-thru. The food kiosk owner will have you order ready with the speed of light. Also, you should not worry about tip money. To show appreciation to the service, simply just enjoy the food and say thanks when you head out.
Sitting down at a street coffee shop nearby after a filled tummy is what Vietnamese people love to do on the weekends. They enjoy social time with family, friends, colleagues, the fresh air, and the sounds of the city at the same time.
My family has a tradition of eating out on the weekends, and of course we always choose street restaurants. Besides cooking at home and having family meals, that is what we do to relax, share, and strengthen the family bonding.
Those are the things that I miss most about Vietnam. Now, being far away from home does not let me do those things, but I still maintain that tradition with my friends. I love cooking and inviting friends over because food taste better with good friends. I am happy when people like my food. Sometimes my friends say I am like a mom who cooks and loves watching the kids enjoy the food. Well, I think in a way it’s true because it means my cooking is fabulous LOL!
I have been dreaming of opening an authentic Vietnamese street restaurant in America where it feels like home for somebody like me. Due to food safety and sanitary concerns, it maybe hard to make an open-spaced kitchen outside on the street, but at least I can try to make an indoor open-spaced one. A lot of other Vietnamese dishes have not been introduced to American culture yet, so I guess it never hurts me to dream big to be the one that makes a difference!
Image source: http://www.aprotravel.com/blog/vietnams-food-paradise.html