Following love’s call
Ngo Lan Thien Huong, born in the Central Highland city of Da Lat, moved with her family to Ho Chi Minh City where she met and married her husband in 1985, wishing to accompany him abroad in search of work.
“Young as we were, it was impossible for us to think straight. We even didn’t know how to survive in a strange country. I just followed the call of love and focused on earning money to support our family”, Huong said.
|Nghi Ngan Quan
She tried anything and everything after arriving in Australia, struggling to improve her English language skills and working long exhausting hours as a farmer or labourer.
Do Thi Tuoi, born in the northern province of Phu Tho, studied in Singapore when she was 18. She fell in love with a roving businessman from Australia.
Like Huong, she joined her Australian boyfriend Drant when he returned home. She now has two business and trade qualifications and lives with her husband and two daughters in the famous South Australian wine producing region of Barossa.
“Initially I was homesick and very sad. But my husband’s love helped me gradually integrate into the local community”, Tuoi said.
“Australian people are very kind and friendly. The country has become my second homeland.”
Her family has opened a small restaurant called Ferment Asian in Barossa.
Business owner by chance
Huong’s decision to do business came after learning about an office space for lease advertised in a newspaper.
”I really wanted to make a change after my first ten years in Australia. When I opened my first restaurant “Nghi Ngan Quan”, I did everything by myself: shopping, cooking, serving, and cleaning”, Huong said.
”I had lost seven kilos before the restaurant could get off the ground, but I enjoyed full support from my family.”
With a plan afoot to expand her business into other prime Australian locations, Huong regularly visits Vietnam with her family to discover more popular dishes in the country.
Nghi Ngan Quan serves traditional dishes such as nem (spring rolls), pho (noodle soup), and banh xeo (Vietnamese crepes).
“I have made a lot of Australian friends since opening the restaurant. They enjoy eating Vietnamese food and sharing their own travel experiences with me,” Huong said.
Tuoi has also opened a restaurant serving both Vietnamese and German dishes.
Her husband’s support is an important factor behind her successful combination of delicious dishes with famous red wine in the region.
Drant believes Australian flavours thrive in harmony with Vietnamese culinary arts.