PhD students spread the love for Vietnamese food in Guangxi
(VNF) – The 'PhD phở restaurant' is how residents living nearby the Guangxi University (Nanning, China) call a restaurant selling their favorite phở noodles and other Vietnamese dishes, which has been well-known in the area during the last three years.
Like many Vietnamese students in Guangxi, the three PhD owner of 'Pho Viet' find it difficult to have homeland authentic dishes (illustrative photo: Vietnamese Students Association in Nanning, Guangxi)
The name ‘PhD phở restaurant’ stems from the profile of three founders and owners of the restaurant who are PhDs students from Vietnam.
They are Bui Thuy Van ( majoring in the economics of nationalities), Pham Thu Ngoc, (majoring in public health) and Nguyen Tien Manh (marjoring in economics).
The idea of launching a shop selling Vietnamese cuisines was triggered from the nostalgia for homeland’s taste of many Vietnamese students in Guangxi, including the three.
According to Ngoc, when she first came to China, she and her peers were crazily craving for Vietnamese food, but failed to find any restaurant that could offer the authentic taste.
As a person who possessed a strong entrepreneurial spirit (Ngoc’s family is running the renowned Chicken 36 franchise restaurants in Hanoi), she noticed the potential market for a Vietnamese food business in Guangxi University’s surrounding areas, and asked her two friends, Van and Manh to join the plan.
Pham Thu Ngoc speaks to VOV reporters (source: VOV)
The nowadays restaurant was first started as a small shop selling Vietnamese banh mi, with capital funded from the modest savings from the three's scholarship grant.
It did not take long for the stall to be noticed by foodies. The banh mi shop was soon packed with customers, including both Vietnamese and Chinese. Higher revenue had propelled Ngoc to upgrade the business into a Phở restaurant.
Strictly following the exquisite recipe of Vietnamese traditional phở, the dish soon became appealing to the locals. “At the moment, Pho Viet restaurant receives around 300 diners who order the noodles,” Ngoc said.
On average, the restaurant serves 300 customers who order Phở everyday. (source: VOV)
"Since its opening, I have come here at least 2 or 3 times a week to enjoy the authentic Vietnamese food, which I really like. I’ve traveled to Vietnam many times and have become a big fan of Vietnamese Pho and fried springrolls. This restaurant offers very delicious Vietnamese food. I’m especially fond of the chicken Pho here, whose broth is very subtle, as well as the fried springroll with perse fillings," said Wu Rong Ke, a Chinese doctor, a regular visitor of the restaurant.
Wu also posted its menu on a free Chinese messaging website to help the restaurant reach more Chinese customers.
"I like the subtle taste of Vietnamese food with its fresh ingredients and drinking coffee with friends instead of drinking alcohol. Vietnamese have very healthy eating and drinking habits," he added.
One of the restaurant’s owner, Bui Thuy Van, has been studying in Guangxi since she was 18. Sharing the nostalgia for authentic homeland’s food, Van partnered with Ngoc and Manh to launch the business.
"Six months after the restaurant was opened, we had customers queuing in long lines for a table. So she decided to offer more dishes, like spring rolls and rice vermicelli with grilled pork, or bun cha, all of the food we love in Vietnam. We also hired a Vietnamese chef to work for us. Feedback from Chinese customers has been very encouraging. They love our food, which they say is delicious and exotic to them," she said.
Nguyen Tien Manh, one of the three restaurant founders and owners (source: VOV)
28-year-old Nguyen Tien Manh recalled the original idea of opening a Vietnamese restaurant: "Vietnamese noodles and spring rolls are among the typical dishes of Vietnam that have been promoted worldwide. We wanted to introduce Vietnamese food to Chinese people who may have heard about Vietnamese food but never had a chance to visit Vietnam. This was also our way of promoting Vietnamese tourism."
However, according to Ngoc, the three’s top priority has always been studying. “We opened this restaurant because we want to promote Vietnamese cuisine and create a place for Vietnamese students living and studying in Guangxi to get together," she stressed.
3 years ago, the place where the “PhD phở restaurant" is now located was a deserted, quiet street, with the light turned off at around 8 or 9 pm. People once doubted about the prospect of the business. But the three PhDs students, with their passion for homeland food, the strong willingness to widely broadcast Vietnamese culture and high level of unity have brought them success./.
( Phi Yen )