After years of missing the cuisine from southern Vietnam, Ivy Tran has finally realized a dream and opened her own restaurant to share the flavours of her hometown with Prince George.
Tran and her husband David Duong opened their restaurant Ivy’s Family Kitchen this weekend with a special ceremony full of family and friends who had travelled from all over B.C. and Alberta for the grand opening.
Cooking Vietnamese food started as a hobby for Tran, but over the years it became her passion. She then began selling her food online where she quickly grew a loyal fan base and received a lot of community support.
“We introduced it to everyone in the beginning on Facebook before we started the restaurant because we didn’t know after COVID-19 if anyone would be interested. But it became a hit,” explained Duong.
“I am not confident if anyone would love my food or not and I tried and they liked it in Hell Yeah PG. After that they would message me and ask me to try it and order for the weekends,” said Tran.
“I made some for them to try and I got feedback, and everyone liked my food so that is why I decided to open [the restaurant].”
Duong said when they first moved to Prince George in 2011, they noticed there were not many Vietnamese restaurants that specialize in cuisine from the southern region of the country in the city.
“It’s a bit different and the flavours are more bold than other regions. Vietnam has so many regions and so many styles of cooking and we are more southern.”
Duong said that the concept of Ivy’s Family Kitchen is also a bit different than other restaurants as they have a smaller menu and will feature four or five main items that they'll change every day.
“For example, there are different types of soup that we will change up every day and different types of rice dishes, and there will be Vietnamese crepes that we will make,” said Duong, adding that they are also excited for the community to try the Pho and a special short rib with barbecue sauce that marinates for 24 hours.
“I called it the family kitchen because I want everyone to come here, and it will be like you’ve come home to eat, and we will serve you just like family,” added Tran.
“We try to do everything fresh, and I want to bring to Prince George something new. I got a lot of help in our community, so I want to say thank you and be respectful. With every food item, I give love back to our community.”
It was not an easy road for Duong and Tran to open their restaurant, as they lost thousands of dollars in a shipping scam when they ordered equipment for their kitchen.
“It was a pretty hard journey,” said Duong. “It was delays after delays and then when the equipment came it wasn’t in Canadian standard, so we couldn’t use any of the equipment either. So, there was a plan B where we had to get other equipment in and everything else we have to wait to get it certified.”
Despite the setbacks, Duong and Tran say they have been amazed at the community support they’ve received.
Tran said because her English is not very good, cooking and sharing her food with others has made her feel more connected to the community.
“The community actually came in and were a big supporter of her and we were really surprised, and we were honoured in a way that everyone was so supportive even though sometimes we made mistakes,” said Duong.
He also asked for patience if they make any mistakes as they adjust to running a restaurant for the first time.
“I know it is going to be busy and it won’t be the same as our home but we will try and do our best,” said Duong. “Hopefully in time, the routines will kick in and we will get better, but we will try our best to introduce different cuisines from the southern part of Vietnam.”
Ivy’s Family Kitchen is located at 1230 Fourth Avenue in downtown Prince George and is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.