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Famous Saigon pho house forced to close after repeated vandalism

Friday, August 02, 2019, 13:52 GMT+7
Famous Saigon pho house forced to close after repeated vandalism
The front of the Pho Hoa Pasteur restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City is smeared with red paint in this photo taken on August 1, 2019. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre

A popular Saigon restaurant known for its ‘pho,' Vietnam’s iconic beef noodle soup, is temporarily closing its doors to patrons following a series of attacks on its diners and staff.

Pho Hoa Pasteur in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, has been the victim of eight attacks since the beginning of July, according to a report filed by the venue’s owner on Wednesday, District 3 Police told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper the same day.

In CCTV footage of one of the attacks supplied to Tuoi Tre by Pho Hoa Pasteur’s owner, a group of men appeared to be throwing a variety of substances, purportedly red paint, pig organs, and shrimp paste – a fermented condiment with a strong smell – at the restaurant.

The attacks took place both during opening hours and at night after the restaurant had already closed, according to the report.

CCTV footage of vandalism attacks aimed at the Pho Hoa Pasteur restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City

Diners sitting inside were hit by the substances during some of the attacks and the restaurant was repeatedly forced to close so that staff could clean food preparation areas contaminated by the filth, Pho Hoa Pasteur’s owner said, adding that business has been greatly affected and his own family members are afraid of going outside for fear of being attacked.

As of Thursday the restaurant had been temporarily shuttered for “construction," according to an announcement seen outside the store.

“Due to interior construction, we temporarily close for a short time [sic],” the announcement states in both Vietnamese and English.

“We are terribly sorry for the inconvenience it may cause to you and greatly appreciate your understanding and support,” the announcement continues.

An announcement posted to the gate on Pho Hoa Pasteur restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City on August 1, 2019. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre

An announcement posted to the gate of the Pho Hoa Pasteur restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City on August 1, 2019. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Pho Hoa Pasteur’s owner told Tuoi Tre he suspects the vandals to be debt collectors who want to terrorize his family into paying his brother-in-law’s overdue debts, which he says have amounted to over VND8 billion (US$340,000).

The brother-in-law runs a mobile phone and automobile accessory store adjacent to the Pho Hoa Pasteur premises and has been avoiding creditors, he said.

“Nobody knows where [my brother-in-law] is. We haven’t been able to reach him,” the owner said, adding that he filed a police report after each incident but the attacks still seem to have persisted.

District 3 Police said they have assigned the case to their investigative unit.

The front of the Pho Hoa Pasteur restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City is smeared with red paint in this photo taken on August 1, 2019. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre

The front of the Pho Hoa Pasteur restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City is smeared with red paint in this photo taken on August 1, 2019. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Established in the late 1960s, Pho Hoa Pasteur is one of the most popular pho restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, especially among foreign visitors to the southern metropolis.

It has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence by travel website TripAdvisor each year since 2015 and its average rating is 4.5/5 based on over 1,000 reviews on the site.

Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, fresh herbs and meat – usually beef but sometimes chicken.

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