Mom always says “It’s Cooking with the heart that matters.”
Though PHỞ is world-famous for being the first popular Vietnamese dish that comes to most people’s mind, there’s something personal about this warm and comforting noodle soup that we’d like to share with you.
Here’s our story…
When I (Trang) was little, we used to have a simple small home near the Westlake in Hanoi. That’s where I spent most of my childhood playing outside. Back then, I thought of Westlake as this huge wide ocean with nothing to see but the sunrise and sunset on the horizon.
Back then, the streets of Hanoi (Hà Nội) were covered with the best flavors and smells from traditionally family-run food stalls and shops. In every second or third shop, you would find a grumpy aunty who seemed to enjoy screaming at people but made the best food ever :D. Coca Cola arrived in Vietnam only in 1994. Slowly followed by other big brands from abroad. Going abroad was more like moving to another planet. I could not imagine how that was like until 1997, when our family moved to Germany.
Only then, I realized how lucky I was to be able to carry on this heritage wherever I am. The initial months were challenging. I missed Hanoi, my friends, relatives, and the food stalls and vendors that had made a huge part of my childhood growing up in Vietnam.
Every morning, you would hear vendors carrying a huge bamboo basket on their heads selling banh mi bread. “Bánh mì ơi! Bánh mì nóng nào!” (Have a hot banh mi!) was screamed repeatedly in an almost melodic rhythm and broke the morning silence. With that you would slowly see food shops and moving food stalls appearing on the sidewalks, setting their tables, wooden benches, and plastic chairs. Vietnamese sidewalks were not meant to walk on but to walk and pause, to buy important stuff such as flowers for ancestors' altar, fresh ingredients, and of course to eat.
Eating out has always been part of our culture, but going to a proper fancy restaurant was something that only a few could afford in those days. For most people, the preferred choice was street stalls run by vendors who day by day served the same dish. They usually followed a recipe that was passed down from generation to generation. Or they were naturally gifted and had a good sense for great flavors. One thing was certain: You could trust that the shops and stalls would open around the same time and serve the same mouthwatering dish every single day. The markets and streets seemed to follow a natural law. Everyone knew they needed each other to thrive. I thought that was something beautiful.
Out of all the dishes available, phở naturally became the most popular noodle soup because of its reputation for being the home remedy that cures almost everything. Every person who was sick could recover faster when being served phở. Every little child was fed with phở believing that it would give them more strength and enough nutrition, especially in cold seasons.
And magically this turned out to be true. Everyone I knew recovered from something simply by slurping this warm bowl of goodness. On top of that, it was the kind of comfort food that everyone could afford to buy now and then, regardless of their background or status. And everyone loved it! Most people preferred to eat it for breakfast.
But there’s more to it of course! It’s not only about PHỞ but rather the phở we got fed with by our Mom. She was like a magician in the kitchen and everything she cooked seemed to taste extraordinarily yum! As a child, I looked up to her a lot and wished I could become the same person like her one day.
It didn’t take me long to figure out her secret to Why her food always tastes most delicious! It always starts with the choice of good ingredients, but more than that the love and care she puts into everything she does. Mom always says “It’s Cooking with the heart that matters.” And that became our first and most important philosophy at Vietnam-ease Càphê.
Fast forward to NOW: Following Mom’s recipe and wisdom, Phở (Gà/Chicken, Chay/Vegetarian) is now available at Vietnam-ease Càphê for you to enjoy. We try our best to live up to her legend!
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At Vietnam-ease Càphê we want to change the way people experience cuisine and culture in India. Our menu includes some of our favorite signature dishes, snacks, desserts and Vietnamese coffee.