Police said Monday they have arrested five men for conducting a series of ‘terrorizing’ attacks on a popular restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City known for its pho, Vietnam’s iconic beef noodle soup, forcing the store to shut down temporarily last week.
Pho Hoa Pasteur in District 3 suffered eight vandalism attacks in July, with men purportedly throwing red paint, pig organs, and a smelly condiment at the restaurant.
The attacks were carried out both during opening hours and at night when the restaurant had already closed, according to a report filed police by its owner Pham Tung Linh.
The repeated vandalism terrorized diners, staff and Linh’ family members, forcing the pho house to announce a temporary shutdown “for interior construction” on August 1.
The pho restaurant has reopened since Sunday morning, according to Tuoi Tre News observations.
Five men purportedly involved in defacing the restaurant were captured by the Ho Chi Minh City police force on Sunday, officers said at a press briefing on Monday afternoon.
They had wanted to pressure Linh into repaying overdue debts owed by the pho house owner’s brother-in-law Tran Anh Tuan, according to initial information released by police officers.
Tuan and his wife P.T.K.V., who is Linh’s younger sister, have not been heard from since July 11, days after telling other family members they were being hunted by debt collectors over a debt of VND2.2 billion ($95,000), Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper reported.
Pham Phong Phu, one of Tuan’s business partners, was among the arrestees while the remaining four suspects had followed Phu's orders to vandalize the pho venue, police said on Monday.
Phu told police officers during interrogation he had ordered his men to damage Tuan’s house after finding him unable to repay the debts incurred while the two were partners doing business in automobile trade and real estate.
Since Tuan and his wife went into hiding, Phu turned to Linh’s pho restaurant for the vandalism spree, police said at Monday’s press briefing.
|Ho Chi Minh City police officers hold a press briefing announcing the arrests of five suspects involved in vandalism attacks against the Pho Hoa Pasteur restaurant, August 5, 2019. Photo: Ngoc Khai / 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, either beef or chicken.