YÊU: The Couples Behind Vietnam’s Bars and Kitchens feat. Fermented

FERMENTED - HOT TABLE yeu series

Vu Thanh and Nguyen Hung are the founders of Fermented.

It’s that time of the week again where I’m forced to concede that there is goodness, beauty and wonder to be found in this hostile, godless universe of ours. At the end of a long hard week inhabiting an insignificant rock that hurtles aimlessly around a flaming ball of gases for no good reason whatsoever, I probably need a dose of good news – that and a stiff drink or four. Hence our commitment to highlighting the brilliance and romance and all that the power of love has done for the tastebuds of Hanoi and this week in our YÊU series, the couple that bake bread with love and yeast tell the story of Fermented.

If you’re unaware of Fermented, you’ve clearly found an especially well-hidden rock to live under – well, maybe not, but regardless, Nguyen Hung and Vu Thanh are the delightful duo that have abandoned all that went before to pursue a life together in the kitchen. Specialising in fermented drinks, artisanal baked goods, sourdough bread and other tastes of home, Fermented aim for a healthier homemade set of options for those who miss the wide range of bread that this strange world of ours has to offer.

Fermented couples of hanoi

“I was living in Sydney, when I met Thanh in Dalat,” explains Nguyen, who moved from Saigon to Australia back in 1992, now he and his wife set about living out their dream in their kitchen. “We’ve been in contact ever since, I flew back and forth over the course of a long distance relationship, but we worked out it would be much easier for me to move here than for her to move to Australia.”

With a heart-melting smile as she beams lovingly at her husband, Vu continues, “He moved over here in 2016, but I’d only met him in Da Lat just over three years ago around February 2015.” The pair were married by July 2017. “Fermented was his idea, he’d been experimenting with fermentation in Sydney, so when he got out here, he got restless – we tried to find work for him that wasn’t teaching, but fermented was his hobby.”

After returning to his home country – albeit, the other side of it – Nguyen soon set about toying with the idea of some sort of fermented business. “I started up in 2016, initially it was just me doing the work, Thanh was still working at KOTO and it was only when I put a post out onto one of the Facebook groups here that things changed.”

FERMENTED - yeu series hot table

Vu had previously supported Nguyen at home where possible, but when the demand kept rising, she saw it was time to commit fully to Fermented. “I think it was October 2017 when Fermented got really busy, so I stopped working at KOTO and decided to help out here.”

From there, Fermented only grew. “We had hired someone, but we still weren’t seeing much of each other until Thanh started working here with me and then there were a few issues, but we got to spend more time together and work out a work-life balance.” There are plenty of folks who’d rather not let the lines of business and romance cross over too much, but for those willing to take the plunge, the results can be incandescent. “We sometimes nearly kill each other!” jokes Vu, but Nguyen clarifies. “In the beginning it was hard, but now we know how to work in the kitchen together. We just make sure that we put all of the sharp objects away first!”

Fermented have the right chemistry, in and out of the kitchen, but you can taste the product of their love here.

Fermented YEU Series

© HOT TABLE. Photography by Julia Solervicens.

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