Foodies storm pho shops as Hanoi resumes indoor dining

By Nguyen Ngoan   October 14, 2021 | 01:15 am PT
Many pho shops were packed with customers Thursday morning, the first day Hanoi allowed indoor dining.
From 6:00 a.m. on October 14, Hanoi permits restaurants and food service enterprises (save for alcoholic beverages, beer, and draft beer businesses) to do business and serve on the spot, with a limit of 50 percent of seats and the use of partitions or barriers. Customers must scan the QR code when the facility owner and employees have been immunized with two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Many businesses, especially pho restaurants, were busy serving clients immediately after the order was lifted.

Many food establishments, especially pho shops, were packed with customers onthe first day indoor dining is permitted.
Restaurants and other food and beverage establishments (except businesses that sell alcohol) are allowed to offer on-site dining at half their maximum capacity starting Thursday morning. People must maintain required distances from each other, or screens used to separate them. Owners and staff must be fully vaccinated, and their customers medically declare themselves via QR codes.

Customers came in and out of the Ton Duc Thang street pho store on the first day of sales. Ms. Dao Thi Thinh (88 years old, owner) stated that she has been in the noodle business for 43 years and that this is the first time her family has had to close the shop for such an extended period of time. For three months in a row, the pandemic has not been acknowledged; employees must continue to pay their wages while living with expenditures but without experiencing many hardships. Although Hanoi has been open for take-out for some time, yesterday was the first day the shop was open for business.

Dao Thi Thinh, 88-year-old owner of a pho shop on Ton Duc Thang Street, said her eatery has been open for 43 years and that this is the first time her family has had to close for such an extended period of time. After three months, her shop finally reopened to sell takeouts in mid-September. Thursday is her first day welcoming back customers.

Selling away food is no longer hot, loses its taste, and few customers buy it, Thinh said, adding that she got word that she was permitted to dine at the restaurant that afternoon. The entire family was ecstatic, with each member assigned a task such as purchasing ingredients, cleaning tables and chairs, and placing splash screens. It didnt take till 2 a.m. to clean up since the pandemic took a long time to not open the door, dust blanketed the home, and we had to create the ideal atmosphere to greet visitors, Ms. Thinh explained.

"We didn't get lots of customers when selling takeaways since pho gets cold and loses its taste," Thinh said.
When Hanoi permitted on-site dining, her entire family was happy and each member devided up tasks like purchasing ingredients, cleaning tables and chairs, and putting up plastic screens.
"We finished cleaning up at 2 a.m., cleaning up tables and floors to create the ideal atmosphere to welcome back customers."

Thinhs Noodle Shop is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. By 7:30 a.m. on the first day of operation, the business had received over 300 visitors, not to include take-out. Many individuals are forced to wait or perhaps leave since there are no seats available. Mrs. Thinh was relieved that her children had employment again as she looked about at the bustling guests.

Thinh's pho shop is open everyday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
On the first day of resuming indoor dining, by 7:30 a.m., she had served up to 300 bowls, not including take-outs. Many people left since there were no more seats available.

Ms. Trieu Thi Duong (Nghia Tu Therefore ward) read in the newspaper that she was permitted to eat at the restaurant, so she had to rush to a known restaurant to eat. My husband and I awoke at 6 a.m. and welcomed each other to Pho Thinh restaurant, where we had eaten for over 10 years. After three months of not eating, I was starving , she explained.The woman said that the pandemic had brought everything to a standstill, forcing her to stay at home and unable to consume her favorite foods. She said that the restaurants reopening at this time are also safer, with contact-limiting barriers, because life is progressively normalizing and everyone is about to get inoculated with two vaccines. I simply hope things improve and peoples lives return to normal, she added.

"My husband and I woke up at 6 a.m. and decided to come here to have pho for breakfast. We have been eating at Pho Thinh for 10 years. After three months, I really craved the pho here," Trieu Thi Duong said.
She added she felt safe dining indoors as the shop has protective screens and most people have gotten at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
"I simply hope things improve and people's lives will return to normal," she added.

After three months, Nga travels 12 kilometers from Me Tri to Sword Lake to eat a bowl of Thin pho, which he refers to as a special bowl of the store owner! It had been a long time since she had eaten a round bowl of pho given to the table rather than needing to pack and buy it as Hanoi had previously permitted. Eating pho in a restaurant is always preferable to buying it. Im relieved that, after such a lengthy wait, the city now permits eating at the restaurant. Hopefully, the epidemic will end soon and peoples life will resume normalcy, Nga added.

Nga, a Nam Tu Liem District resident, traveled 12 kilometers to dine at her favorite shop on Ton Duc Thang Street.
"Eating pho right at the venue is much more delicious than buying to go. I'm relieved the city has allowed indoor dining again," she said.

A unique chicken noodle business in Hang Dieu is also quite popular. Mr. Van Tien Tuan, the proprietor of the pho restaurant, was overjoyed yesterday night when he learned that the business had been sold on the spot. He said that the quantity of sales brought back was insufficient to cover his expenses, but he continued to try to sell. Mr. Tuan motivated workers to clean up, wipe tables and chairs, wash dishes and chopsticks, and prepare to greet visitors this morning, in addition to preparing supplies.We ask customers to comply with 5K, scan the QR Code, there is a partition between the table. We only accept 10 guests at a time, if its too crowded, the guests who come later have to wait, he said.

Van Tien Tuan, owner of a pho restaurant on Hang Dieu Street, was overjoyed when he learned that businesses are allowed to welcome back customers dining indoors.
"We ask customers to comply with preventive meauses, medically declare themselves via QR codes. We also put up dividers on tablesand only accept 10 guests at a time," he said.

Welcoming the first customers are close friends, Mr. Tuan and everyone shake hands to congratulate, mentally say its been a long time since we met.He hopes the epidemic will soon be controlled, and the city will allow normal sales so that businesses like him can revive after the pandemic.

Tuan added that he saw many loyal customers who were eager to come dine here again. Everyone told him"it's been a long time since we met."
He hopes the epidemic would soon be controlled, and the city allow eateries to serve at full capicity so businesses could recover after the pandemic.

Another pho establishment on Phung Hung Street where the service crew never stops working. According to Mr. Le Van Viet, the owner, just half of the tables are now set up for visitors to sit, so it was extremely packed this morning, and customers had to wait.

On Phung Hung Street, another pho shop is also packed with customers.
Le Van Viet, the owner, said just half of the tables were set up so many customes had to wait for their turn.

Customers were in and out of the water at two noodle businesses on Hang Vai Street so quickly that the service personnel couldnt move their hands in time. A pho business stated about 8 a.m. that it was out of pho and would not accept customers. Those who arrived later either departed regrettably or had to accept the fact that they would have to wait. We dont know how many bowls weve sold; all we know is that one quintal of pho was sold this morning, the proprietor explained.

One pho shop on Hang Vai Street stated it had already sold out by 8 a.m.
"We don't know how many bowls we've sold. All we know is that one quintal of pho was sold this morning," the owner said.

Many people take advantage of going to the street early to eat pho and enjoy the chilly air.

Many people take advantage of eating pho on the sidewalk while enjoying the chilly autumn weather in Hanoi.

Video by Huy Manh

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