Tiffany Huong believes she has the secret recipe that will turn first-time customers into longtime customers.
"Anybody and everybody can cook, but with me, I put my love into it. Not everyone can do that."
Just over three months ago, the chef and entrepreneur opened Huong's Bistro, a quaint, Subway-sized, beautifully simple, intriguing shop in Lauderdale Lakes. The new shop specializes in preparing a vast assortment of every Vietnamese treat you could imagine (and probably many you couldn't).
Since moving from San Francisco to South Florida, Huong noticed an apparent lack of a true Vietnamese-style eateries that specialized in all the take-it-and-enjoy-on-the-run type of foods she grew up enjoying. She did some catering on the side with top-secret recipes passed down from generations, but in the back of her mind, she always came back to wanting to fill this void in Broward's culinary scene.
"There was really only one, maybe two places, in all of Broward doing this, and nobody really did it like I felt it should be done, so I got to work."
She eventually decided on opening Huong's Bistro in the heart of Lauderdale Lakes, neighboring a popular Asian market, and close in proximity to many full-menu, sit-down Vietnamese restaurants.
When you walk into Huong's Bistro, you're immediately smacked in the face by an assortment of delicacies the average Broward resident might not recognize right off the bat. Coolers are stacked with intriguing dessert items, bubble teas, shakes, coconut desserts, Vietnamese sticky-rice snacks, beef papaya salads, shrimp stuffed spring rolls, and many other items prepared fresh daily and packaged for convenience.
When most people think of Vietnamese food, they think of complex soups or vermicelli-noodle-based dishes — but that's just the tip of the iceberg, really. While almost everyone loves a good-ol,' piping-hot bowl of pho, that's not all there is to Vietnamese food.
The main attractions here are clear; the bánh-mi menu (choose from six varieties, ranging from $5 to $5.50), the smoothie center that uses special machines that look more spaceship than blender, and the signature Vietnamese-style iced coffee that is sure to make you skip your next stop at Starbucks, are the stars for your everyday customer, but there is so much more to the store.
For those looking to try what Huong considers her specialties, she suggests three items: the family recipe minced-pork meatball bánh mi, a "pateso" or "Pâté Chaud" savory flaky puff-pastry that comes filled with an addictive pork-combination filling, and her comforting bánh bao (literally "wrapping cake") filled with a meat and boiled egg.
"I love to cook so much, I grew up cooking. Everything in my store is made using my family's Southwest Vietnam recipes."
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Huong's Vietnamese Bistro is new and small but still growing thanks to Huong's family and customer word-of-mouth. The variety, quite frankly, borders on overwhelming. But, fear not; everything is presented simply (and clearly labeled) so that even newbies can find something to enjoy. And Huong and her staff are eager to guide you.
"Vietnamese food is easy to eat, and you'll love it."
Huong's Bistro is located at located at 4225 N. State Road 7 in Lauderdale Lakes. Call 754-223-3060.