“In this property, it is more of an asset to us,” Truong said. Is Truong concerned that Vietnamese food — readily available in the City of Buffalo and to the north — may have a harder time building a following in the Southtowns?
“I know that not many ethnic cuisines have come here and survived, but you can see things are changing,” he said. “I talked to a lot of people, got a lot of opinions before we made this move, and we got a lot of positive feedback from people.”
Truong admits that five years ago a move like this may not have made sense. But he said he is excited to see the response when he opens for business in April.
“There are a lot of other places coming in” the village “and I think this is the perfect time for us to be part of what’s happening,” he said.
Truong said his wife, My, will oversee the menu for Saigon Bangkok’s Hamburg location. It will feature a stronger emphasis on dishes from her native North Vietnam. Truong said many people who have never had Vietnamese food may mistake it for Thai, or even Chinese cuisine, but he notes there are very distinct differences.
“In Vietnamese food, we use a lot of noodles and very fresh herbs,” he said. “We use hardly any oil and usually grilled meat and vegetables so the food is very light and very healthy.
“There will be a lot of noodle soups on the menu, things you may not find at the restaurants in Buffalo,” Truong added.
Truong said the plan is to begin with a smaller menu than the other locations and use the weekends as an opportunity to run different specials and test out what the people of Hamburg enjoy.
Truong said he originally hoped to open in March. But he is completely renovating the interior of the restaurant and wants to make sure everything is perfect when the doors open.
“We are going to have 12 to 13 tables and a wet bar with seating for just four of five people,” he said. Truong said he also plans to have the outdoor patio open once the warm weather hits.
“In Vietnam, we dine outside a lot,” he said. “We want that to be part of the experience here and help people enjoy the short summer we have.” Truong said he is thrilled about being part of the Hamburg business community and hoping the introduction of Vietnamese cuisine in the Southtowns leads to another location in the future. “We want people to know you don’t have to be in the big city to have great food,” Truong said.
His wife said that they envision a family restaurant that is warm and inviting. “We want people to feel good, to be happy when they come here and to enjoy good food,” she said.