About Me

After my mother passed away from Parkinson’s Disease in 2021, I realized that life is too short not to be happy with what you are doing. My mother, who was a wonderful cook, was happiest when she was an entrepreneur owning first an Asian market and then a jewelry store.

With the madness of Covid-19, I decided to retire from a long career in pediatric emergency medicine, a career that was recently starting to take a significant toll on me as I found medicine to be increasingly broken. Instead I decided to do something that I found nourishing to my soul. I have always had a passion to introduce people to good Vietnamese food, and I decided to honor my mother’s memory by bringing her Vietnamese recipes to the local Michigan area... an area that is just starting to discover Vietnamese cuisine.

I have full confidence you will love her food as much as I did growing up.

Thoa Thi Nguyen


History of Pho

When Vietnamese cuisine is mentioned, most Westerners think of Pho which many feel is the national dish of Vietnam. Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a complex noodle soup built in layers with first flat rice noodles, then pickled onions, then thinly sliced raw beef which is then cooked by pouring a hot broth flavored with asian spices over the noodle dish. Patrons then customize their bowl by adding herbs, bean sprout, lime, chili peppers, and hoisin sauce and sriracha.

The development of Pho most likely occurred in the late 1880’s when the French colonized Vietnam and introduced a French beef stew called “pot au feu” which means “pot on the fire” where the French would simmer marrow rich beef bones for hours to make the broth for the stew. The Vietnamese most likely converted the word “feu” to “Pho” and created their own Vietnamese version of this “pot on the fire” with a broth flavored with Star Anise, Cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and charred ginger and onions along with marrow rich bones.

Pho has evolved over 100 years and in some ways mirrors the history of Vietnam. Pho was initially created in North Vietnam where only beef and the complex broth were used in the dish. In 1954, North and South Vietnam split, and Pho was introduced to South Vietnam as people fled communist North Vietnam. The South starting using fresh herbs, bean sprout, hoisin sauce and Sriracha in their Pho bowls due to the abundance of herbs in the south compared to the north. Finally, Pho was introduced to the Western world after the fall of Saigon in 1975 with the subsequent development of many different versions including chicken pho or vegetarian pho. Just as a bowl of Pho is a complex layered noodle soup, the evolution of the Pho we eat today is just as complex and interesting.

What is Fish Sauce?

    Anyone familar with Vietnamese cuisine may or may not be aware that Fish Sauce is an essential ingredient used in almost all Vietnamese dishes either as a salt seasoning or as a delicious sweet and sour dipping sauce when mixed with water, sugar, lime, garlic and Thai chili peppers.  But what actually is fish sauce?
    Fish sauce is an amber colored liquid extracted from the fermentation of anchovies or other fish that have been layered with sea salt and allowed to ferment anaerobically for 6-12 months in large wooden or ceramic vats.  In its pure form, fish sauce has a very pungent fishy smell and is extremely salty tasting and one must wonder why would anyone want to put that stinky fish sauce in their food?  However, it has recently come to be recognized by many world renown chefs as an ingredient that imparts a complexity and umami flavor much like soy sauce or mushrooms do, and fish sauce has started to gain more interest by the Western world as competitions have been won by chefs using fish sauce in their dishes.  
    Although most people associate fish sauce with Southeast Asia cuisine (Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam), it may be surprising to find that fish sauce actually traces its origin back to the time of the ancient Greeks living around the Mediterranean area and Northern Africa around the 4th century BC.  After the Greeks were conquered by the Romans, fish sauce was adopted by the Roman Empire.  Fish sauce was found to be a way of preserving fish which easily spoiled soon after being fished.  It was also recognized to be an important source of protein and nutrients.  More importantly, the Romans loved the the salty umami taste and it has been documented that fish sauce was an ingredient in almost every Roman recipe during that time period.  Fish sauce spread via trade to Europe and some historians also believe that fish sauce may have actually been introduced to Southeast Asia by the Romans through trade via the Silk Road (can you say cultural appropriation?). Fish sauce all across Europe and the Roman Empire was extremely popular and coveted during this time period and traded at cost similar to fine wines! There were numerous factories producing fish sauce throughout the Roman Empire, primarily in Spain, Portugal, southern France, Italy, and northen Africa.  
    The reason fish sauce does not currently persist in modern day Europe is because the Romans, as their empire started to fail, imposed such a heavy tax on the sea salt required to ferment the fish that fish sauce became very expensive to produce.  Piracy also disrupted trade and eventually the production of fish sauce almost entirely disappeared across the West.
    Fish sauce is currently manufactured primarily in Vietnam and Thailand where their long coastlines and warm weather allow year round fishing as well as plentiful sea salt.  Recently there has been a renewed interest in the different varieties of fish sauce as Westerners become more familiar with Southeast Asia cuisine.  So when you try a Vietnamese dish, don’t let that initial smell turn you off.  You may find that the dish is actually quite delicious as there is a good reason why fish sauce has existed for centuries across several continents!


Despite the name, no squid is used in fish sauce!
Anchoives are the primary fish used.