Made pho you


Lily Hoa Nguyen, owner and executive chef of Vietnamese Foodies, brought together her home country and passion for food


Nisthula Nagarajan

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Published: Thu 29 Jul 2021, 3:34 PM

About me: I grew up in post-war Vietnam when my mother’s meals were practical and quick but full of flavour at the same time. She used a variety of vegetables and herbs that she grew at home. I would spend my summers on her farm learning to tend to plants and animals. By nine, I became responsible for cooking all the meals because the others were busy planting or taking care of farm stock. This is when I discovered my passion for nurturing and experimenting with food.

While living in Turkey, I hosted Vietnamese cooking classes under the name Vietnamese Foodies, which quickly grew in popularity. When my family and I relocated to Dubai, I re-started lessons and before I know it, there was a lot of interest. I saw the gap here for fresh, authentic, and affordable Vietnamese food and noticed a small restaurant available for lease in JLT. Now, three locations later, the rest is history.

Our menu is inspired by both the culinary diversity of Vietnam’s commercial capital, Ho Chi Minh City, as well as my own experience of being surrounded by fresh, healthy and delicious food while growing up. We aim to transport our customers to the bustling streets of Vietnam through an abundance of flavourful, healthy, and affordable dishes. We focus on authenticity and hiring the best talent, many of whom are straight from Vietnam.

The secret to great Vietnamese food: Sourcing the freshest and highest quality ingredients.

Favourite dish: We’re most famous for our Pho, which is simmered for 14 hours. I also love our Banh Mi and Bun. Several Vietnamese dishes are naturally gluten- and dairy-free. Many of our customers love that our dishes are healthy with vegan options across the menu.

The future: We are currently focusing on re-building the depth of our relationship with Vietnamese Foodies diners. We don’t have any plans to open a new branch or introduce new menu items soon, but we are re-mastering some of the current favourites.

Advice to budding chefs: Make sure that you have a unique and winning offer before launching it to the public. Once launched, the work begins to bring awareness to the public. Also, always do your best to ensure consistency in customer experience.

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