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Canh Ranh, a small seaside town about 60km from Nha Trang. He says his two HCM City-based restaurants, both named Ganh, are built on the abundance of rich childhood memories he acquired while living there.

Gánh "Country-side in city"

Cam Ranh, a small seaside town about 60km from Nha Trang. He says his two HCM City-based restaurants, both named Gánh, are built on the abundance of rich childhood memories he acquired while living there.

As a boy, Khoa would spend his afternoons with his grandmother Nguyen Thi The, a woman well-versed in the art of Vietnamese cooking—Nha Trang style. Each day after school, he would run to her house and then accompany her to the local market where she would sift painstakingly through the wares on display. She always carried the freshmproduce she chose back home in traditional woven twin baskets, known as ganh, hoisted across  Those baskets, his beloved ba, now 80, and the flavourful fare she would fashion in her mod­est Canh Ranh kitchen, are the inspiration behind Ganh.

  

Khoa has inherited his grandmother's commitment to sourcing quality ingredi­ents, too. While he buys his vegetables from HCM City, everything else is transported daily from Nha Trang. Everynight his parents—who still live in Canm Ranh—load up a van with groceries, which arrives in Saigon around 5 am, ready to be transformed into south-central coast delicacies.

Growing up near the ocean, Khoa was raised on seafood and Gánh menu reflects this. The bun ca—a bowl of steaming fragrant fish broth with vermi­celli—is just one of the many options. Packed with chunks of fresh and peppery ground fish, all it needs is a little adornment. Crunchy bean sprouts, bap chuoi (banana flowers) and chilli to taste complete the soup, which is unique to Nha Trang.

Though seafood was a staple, Khoa's favourite childhood dish was nem nuong—grilled pork and vegetables wrapped in rice paper. Ganh's version (40,000 VND for two people) is true to Khoa's grandmother's recipe—light with tangy green mango and star fruit and a signature crunch owed to the deep-fried rice paper that's rolled inside, also. According to Khoa, the dipping sauce (tuong dau phong), made from peanuts, minced meat, shrimp, nuoc mam (fish sauce) and sugar can make or break the meal. He says, timing is crucial and each component 

must be added at exactly the right moment, to ensure opti­mum taste.

It's this attention to detail and Khoa's desire to showcase the food he grew up with that gives Ganh its warm atmosphere. Then again, anything built on such fond memories and strong familial ties, couldn't feel any­thing but.