Folded neatly in the corner of the pocket of a little girl’s tattered red coat, was a well-worn piece of paper. Her seven-year-old fingers toyed with it obsessively, but ever-so-gently, so as not to tear it, or indeed fade the precious words that were hastily scribbled on it. She had stuffed it in her frayed pocket minutes before her family fled to meet the boat made by her father, which was to take them from war-torn Vietnam to their new life across the sea, to a country of safety, security and hope for a new life – Australia.
The treasured piece of paper contained the ingredients and methods for her traditional family recipes of Pho and rice paper rolls, spring rolls and curries and Vietnamese buns. Even then, in her small child’s mind, Dao Vo instinctively knew that she was to guard them with all her might, as though the future of her family depended on them.
During the long and dangerous journey, where they encountered terrifying seas and pirates who robbed them of the few possessions they had, Dao held on to this piece of paper, frequently pulling it from her pocket and reading the recipes.
She would study a recipe and then squish her eyes so tight that it might help her to remember each ingredient, each utensil and each method used, to indelibly imprint them in her brain and to ensure her arms, hands and fingers would know exactly what to do in order to recreate the dishes inscribed on the paper.
After two terrifying weeks at sea and a further six months in an Indonesian hostel, Dao and her family were accepted to live in Australia. They arrived with nothing but hope and they lived frugally, again in a hostel, with Dao’s mother cooking up these much-loved recipes for passers-by in order for the family to survive.
Eventually, after saving every cent they could, her parents were able
to open their own Vietnamese eatery in Melbourne using the very same
recipes written on the piece of paper Dao had guarded so fiercely for
all these months.
It was hugely popular, and people came from all over to enjoy the
curries and Pho, the spring rolls, rice paper rolls and buns.
A move to Mullumbimby in 2012 meant Dao was without her daily
dose of much-loved Vietnamese nourishment, so after six years,
she has done what she knew she was destined to do -
create her own Vietnamese Eatery.
And so, Pink Lotus Eatery was born.
At Pink Lotus, you will enjoy recipes handed down from generation
to generation, created by hand with love and using only the finest,
freshest, local ingredients, including lemongrass, Thai basil, coriander,
coconut, pickled carrots, or Dao’s secret recipe Chilli Jam
or Nuoc Mam sauces.
Each dish is crafted around the dishes that nurtured Dao as she grew up,
the Vietnamese Street Food that she found comfort in, even when the
war in Vietnam instilled her with fear and threatened her life.
These are also the dishes that her close-knit family would gather
together each Sunday to enjoy as a weekly ritual, sharing love and
the events of each other’s weeks.
We hope that at Pink Lotus Eatery, you are able to do the same - that you find comfort for your belly, a haven of calm and clarity for your soul and a setting where you feel safe and happy enough to spend many hours enjoying meals and precious time with your loved ones.