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Swiss man serves Vietnamese flavors in Hanoi

Swiss man serves Vietnamese flavors in Hanoi

Friday, May 24, 2024, 13:17 GMT+7
Swiss man serves Vietnamese flavors in Hanoi
Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, sells ‘nem lụi’ (Vietnamese pork lemongrass skewer) on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

A Swiss national is finding himself deeply embedded in Hanoi’s culinary scene, assisting his Vietnamese girlfriend in running a food shop, as they captivate both locals and international tourists with local flavors.

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, made the decision to settle in Hanoi, where he teaches German and helps his girlfriend sell bánh xèo (Vietnamese sizzling crepe) and nem lụi (Vietnamese pork lemongrass skewer). 

Despite his modest Vietnamese accent, Moritz has captivated diners at the nem lụi eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street with his adeptness at grilling the Vietnamese dish. 

In 2023, he embarked on a month-long journey across Vietnam, traversing from the northern to southern regions of the Southeast Asian country.

The journey enchanted him with breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage along the way.

By the year’s end, Moritz resolved to return and volunteer for six weeks. 

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, grills ‘nem lụi’ (Vietnamese pork lemongrass skewer) on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, grills ‘nem lụi’ (Vietnamese pork lemongrass skewer) on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

It was during this period that he forged strong bonds, particularly with his girlfriend, Le Duyen, who hails from the northern province of Nam Dinh. 

Moritz views his time in Vietnam as an opportunity, especially since meeting Duyen. 

The man described his girlfriend as an exceptional cook, who often shares her passion for food with him.

Back in Switzerland, Moritz occasionally took on the role of family chef. 

Since his arrival in Vietnam, Duyen has been instrumental in acquainting him with the intricacies of Vietnamese cuisine, with a particular focus on street food. 

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, assists his girlfriend, Le Duyen, at her eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, assists his girlfriend, Le Duyen, at her eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Expressing his fondness for Vietnamese cuisine, Moritz noted its remarkable diversity compared to the culinary landscape of Switzerland, which predominantly features dairy-rich dishes, cheese, and European fare. 

The man said that he has eaten a plethora of dishes across various regions of Vietnam, each leaving a lasting impression. 

The local eateries boast talented chefs who craft dishes with flavors that are incredibly satisfying, despite their humble appearances.

Therefore, when Duyen made the decision to launch a sidewalk shop, Moritz wholeheartedly backed her initiative.

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, assists his girlfriend, Le Duyen, at her eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, assists his girlfriend, Le Duyen, at her eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Helpful assistant

Situated in Hanoi’s French Quarter, Duyen’s cozy bánh xèo and nem lụi eatery attracts a steady stream of international tourists. 

Leveraging his proficiency in English, Moritz provided assistance in serving foreign patrons.

“Around 6:30 pm daily, after wrapping up his own work, he joins me at the eatery to lend a hand,” Duyen said. 

“Whenever a customer steps in, he warmly greets them and passionately recommends dishes.”

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, grills ‘nem lụi’ (Vietnamese pork lemongrass skewer) on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, grills ‘nem lụi’ (Vietnamese pork lemongrass skewer) on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Moritz takes charge of grilling nem lụi and serving dipping sauces to customers. 

Given that bánh xèo may be unfamiliar to foreign visitors, Moritz eagerly demonstrates the art of wrapping and enjoying it. 

“Since Moritz started assisting me, the eatery has seen a surge in both Vietnamese and international clientele,” Duyen added.

Having spent over three months in Hanoi, Moritz has forged numerous friendships with locals, including neighbors and vendors near the eatery. 

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, and his girlfriend, Le Duyen, watch a smartphone together at her eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Moritz, a 28-year-old Swiss man, and his girlfriend, Le Duyen, watch a smartphone together at her eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Embracing his role in assisting his girlfriend at the shop, Moritz finds it rewarding, affording him ample opportunities to engage with Duyen and enhance his proficiency in the Vietnamese language.

While Moritz had dabbled in Vietnamese previously, his knowledge was limited. 

Now, with Duyen as his tutor, his grasp of the language has significantly improved with each day passing.

Every day, the shop sells between 80 and 100 servings of bánh xèo and approximately 300 to 400 skewers of nem lụi

Le Duyen’s eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Le Duyen’s eatery on Phan Dinh Phung Street in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Hien / Tuoi Tre

Many diners are drawn to the shop out of curiosity to see a foreign man cooking Vietnamese dishes on the street.

Continuously grilling nem lụi to meet customer demands, Moritz views this endeavor as a new chapter in life. 

He expresses a desire to extend his stay in Vietnam longer, with the exact duration remaining uncertain.

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Bao Anh - Nguyen Hien - Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre News

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