|Jeon Kang Hyeon enjoys pho at Uncle Son’s Kitchen. (Photo: Hong Van/VOV5)
Enjoying Vietnamese chicken pho noodle soup after work, Jeon Kang Hyeon, a Korean customer, said, “There are many Vietnamese pho shops in Gwangju, but Uncle Son's Kitchen is special because of its strong flavor. I drop in to the restaurant 3 to 5 times a month.”
“My colleagues also often come here to eat pho. In fact, the dish has become popular in South Korea. I’ve known it since 2014 when I was in college,” he added.
Eunsil Jang, sitting at the next table, ordered a bowl of pho with lemon and chili sauce.
“I feel that Vietnamese pho is similar to Korea’s Myeolchi Kal Guksu, or clam knife-cut noodles. But while the broth of the Korean noodle is made from seafood, the broth of pho is made from various kinds of meat that make it tastier.”
”Vietnamese cuisine is quite popular in Korea. In addition to pho, there is bread and vermicelli with grilled chopped meat. But in the cold winter, I want something hot and liquid. So I choose Vietnamese pho,” said Eunsil Jang.
|Uncle Son’s Kitchen. (Photo: Hong Van/VOV5)
The owner of Uncle Son's Kitchen is a 31-year-old man named Tran Khanh Son, a native of Tuyen Quang province, who has been living in South Korea for 6 years.
With a passion for pho and a desire to make the dish known worldwide, Son and his wife chose to open the restaurant where lots of workers from China, Thailand, Laos, and Uzbekistan live.
“The idea of Uncle Son's Kitchen came to my mind a long time ago. I wanted to popularize Vietnamese pho to as many places as possible. The first destination is Korea,” Son recalled.
|Tran Khanh Son, the owner of Uncle Son's Kitchen. (Photo: Hong Van/VOV5)
To create the unique flavor of his pho, Son has paid close attention to cooking the broth, saying the ingredients play the key role and the broth is the most important element of the dish.
“A delicious broth requires a lot of ingredients. When I first opened the restaurant, all the ingredients were from Vietnam. After a period of time, I learned that there were many Vietnamese shops selling the ingredients in Korea. I buy the fresh ingredients like chicken and herbs directly from Vietnamese shops,” said Son.
|Vietnamese pho noodle soup has become Vietnam’s "ambassador of cuisine."(Photo: Hong Van/VOV5)
To suit the taste of Koreans, Son has added spiciness to the broth and a small plate of the chili-pickled cabbage known as kimchi to accompany the pho.
Uncle Son’s Kitchen sells 50-70 bowls a day at 9,000 won (about 8 USD) each.
Son told VOV that he is very proud to bring Vietnamese pho to Korea and that he’ll do his best to spread his pho to as many Koreans as possible.
Pho is a dish Koreans really enjoy, but it also helps Vietnamese expats ease homesickness.
Minh Nguyet, who has lived in South Korea for 12 years, recalled whe she was in Vietnam, she didn't eat pho very often.
“But since I came to Korea to study and work, pho has made me less homesick. This is our national dish, our national spirit. Every time I eat a bowl of pho, it's like I'm back in Vietnam. I feel proud of being able to enjoy Vietnamese food in a different country,” said Nguyet.
Tran Khanh Son is promoting his brand on digital platforms such as Facebook, Tiktok, and a restaurant webpage. Eventually, Son and his wife hope to open more pho shops in Seoul.
Thanks to the efforts of people like Son, Vietnamese pho noodle soup has become more widely known in Korea and has become Vietnam’s "ambassador of cuisine."