Against All Odds
Banhmi11 is moving to our own stall at Broadway Market
We are so excited to be telling you that we are moving into our own stall at Broadway Market! We are currently sharing a stall with Ca Phe VN but starting Saturday we will have our very own place! It may seem strange to you if you haven’t visited us, but this weekend is going to be a really meaningful day for us as we start on our own. The scary part is still ahead of us but so are the possibilities! At least we are so glad we survived. That we still can exist at Broadway, and we’ll tell you why.
Now since we returned from Vietnam in January a lot of things have happened, but one of the things that became definite this week was that Ca Phe VN decided to end our partnership starting this weekend. Rob and Tuyen will start making banh mi of their own and no longer wish to have us operate in the same stall. As you know, Ca Phe VN makes excellent coffee that goes down very well with banh mi. We always thought that banh mi and coffee goes hand in hand, just like toast and tea, so it was at this very stall, on the tiny stainless steel mini-stools in the middle of Benjamin Close that we proposed to do banh mi.
For the past eight months, the stall has been our home on Saturdays and we really treasure the moments when we get to sit down and relax as a customer. This little alley is like a corner of Saigon in the middle of East London, with a similar energy, creativity and sense of constant change. It was here that we first learned the ropes of running a stall, waiting for time to pass on a rainy afternoon when the market is empty or coping with the panic of piling orders during the lunch rush.
It was here that we did the small things we consider so extraordinary in our very ordinary lives. When Rob and Tuyen’s baby was born in the summer last year, he came to the market from the hospital having stayed up all night. So we stood behind the till and made coffee and felt a strange sense of serenity that the staff and we were running the stall, while the proud father was napping on a chair. Then there was the weekend when my parents were visiting, he was ill and could not bring the van with all our equipments. So my parents got to see three girls trying to set up a gazebo, put up signs by climbing on a bike, beg for electricity from the Laundromat next door and carry water from the cellar of the Broadway grocer to make coffee. No matter what, it was always our intention to keep the stall open in rain or shine, to not have a customer show up and be disappointed at the empty space where the stall usually occupies, to seamlessly serve really good food and drinks without thinking about who really owns what.
Perhaps that’s because we are stubborn, or we are workaholic, or we are beginners and amateurs with too much energy and too little sense. Perhaps that’s because we have been fools to go into such a partnership, not foreseeing that either way we would have been prey of our own success or our own failure.
Yesterday we were in almost despair; it’s almost impossible you see to get into a real food market in London. But the stars aligned in a way that Broadway Market management were so helpful to us – we have incredible respect for the community here. We are so happy that we are just nervous and almost cannot believe it until we really set our stall up on Saturday. Things will be a bit shabby to start with, so bear with us until we can decorate the stall. But the food will be the same, and hopefully better than the last time you tasted it.
There is no excuse but you must know that even though we have been away from the blog, we have been at the market, cooking up new varieties of banh mi. Imperial BBQ, thin slices of sirloin pork soaked overnight in a special marinade inspired by Hue-the old imperial city, is quickly becoming a heavy-weight contestant to the perennial favorite Quad Meat. It hits the spot every time and even though we love the traditional mixed meat variety, we confess that we must refrain ourselves all the time from picking at the yummy fragrant pork, hot off the grill, so that we actually have some left for customers.
So if you can make time for us on Saturday, we will be at Broadway in our brand-new pitch. This is a new beginning, a marvelous thing for all of us. Against all odds, this is the chance we have got to take. And you, will you travel with us on this new road?
Posted on: 04.03.2010