Many changes have taken place in the lives of Vietnamese residents in Ukraine. However, they still maintain and develop their traditional dishes.
Twenty years ago, Vietnamese residents in Kiev were very surprised to see Banh Chung (square shaped sticky rice cake) and Gio Lua (lean pork paste) displayed in the traditional way next to Ukrainian food at a New Year feast held by Vietnam’s embassy.
It was the first time they enjoyed Vietnam’s traditional food in the freezing cold of a European country. It was a present from Kharkov City to help Vietnamese residents enjoy their traditional New Year festival (Tet).
Now, Vietnam’s traditional dishes are very popular in all Ukrainian cities. Food connoisseurs select paste and grilled chopped meat trademarked Van Canh from Kharkov. The paste made by this Vietnamese couple has a special favor of their native land, making it a nostalgic treat. Lately, they also make Banh Day (round sticky rice cake) to be eaten with Cha Que (pork paste with cinnamon flavor) or Gio Lua (lean pork paste).
Meanwhile, during Vietnam’s mid-autumn festival, Banh Nuong (pie) and Banh Deo (sticky rice cake) from Hanh Khanh shop are much sought after by residents there. Hanh and Khanh had been bakers of Hanoi’s Cake and Candy factory. Over the last decade, this couple has made great effort to improve their skills to serve the Vietnamese community there.
Visiting Barabashova market in Kharkov, you can’t forget Pho (rice noodle soup) in winter and Bun Cha (vermicelli and grilled chopped meat) in summer in Khai Nguyet’s shop. This shop has become well-known to Vietnamese residents not only in Kharkov, but also from other cities. They eat Pho as everyday breakfast, in weekends and when they are sick.
The making process requires much effort. Khai and his wife, Nguyet carefully select raw materials, including pig and cow bones, pork and beef and of course good rice to make the noodles. Green onion and coriander, yellow lemon and red chili all provide a special flavor for Khai Nguyet’s Pho. Regular customers often remember their restaurant, but Khai Nguyet’s Pho takes this to a new level. The shop owners know the eating habits of almost every guest in Kharkov very well and try to meet their expectations.
Not only Vietnamese residents but also native people like Bun Cha in this shop. Some even eat this dish almost every day. Others know the shop’s selling schedule by season. They like Bun Cha with the aroma of grilled chopped meat, white rice noodles and particularly Vietnamese herbs such as coriander, lettuce, cockscomb mint and perilla. A dipping sauce of fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and fresh chili is indispensable for Bun Cha. Sliced salad kohlrabi adds more flavor to the dish. Almost twenty years have elapsed. Many changes have taken place in the lives of Vietnamese residents in Ukraine. However, Vietnam’s traditional dishes are still maintained and developed in Kharkov, with well-known trademarks./.