It opened five years ago in Pleiku, Central Highlands and as you would expect from a man of the world, My House was always intended to become a genuine tourist destination.
The menu reflects what the well-travelled 57-year-old calls “a convergence of flavours” and is an integral part of his culinary and hospitality vision. Travels in his youth took him to neighbouring countries and he has added a few special dishes from each to the unique Central Highlands cuisine.
He explains: “After 15 years of working in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, I am bringing some specialties of these countries as I want to create a rich culinary experience for visitors that come to My House.”
Besides a welcoming atmosphere, he set out to create an environmentally friendly, sustainable business and give jobs to local people – all things he has achieved in five years of enlightened operation.
He says: “When I was young, I had many different careers. During that time, I had the opportunity to travel to a lot of places, explore many things and meet many people. Since then, after encountering a few health problems and coming back to my home town, I opened the restaurant with help from my family”.
“I wanted to cook the best dishes for family and friends to enjoy. It was opened in 2014 and after a settling in period, My House has now become a familiar address for many visitors each time they come to Pleiku. My family and I have lived our lives through the tourism industry ever since”.
“At My House, the name of the restaurant is reflected in the food, service and atmosphere. I believe guests come as friends so I give them a warm welcome. It is very conducive for tourists as they feel at home when they experience the food in this cozy environment.”
Ambience is the third “ingredient” to which Mr Hoi pays particular attention. He says his working experience on farms and in the timber industry taught him a lot about flora and fauna, but what struck him most about the processing of wood was the amount of waste.
“The big trees are used for beds, cabinets, tables and chairs,” he says “but still many branches and smaller bits of wood are wasted. So my idea was to recycle the excess pieces, even bits of furniture and other items, and incorporate them into the design of My Home. The theme was regeneration.
“As a result, My House is very green, airy and quiet, and has a subtle decor. Many items are made out of dry wood and even recycled beer cans and tire covers. And on top of that, there’s the view: visitors can look out over a vast expanse of paddy fields.”
The restaurant is also a venue for several events. Every Christmas and New Year, My House hosts the East Market with colourful cultural items for sale, ethnic musical performances, and folk cuisine. On these occasions, Mr Hoi tries to create a family atmosphere in the heart of bustling Pleiku city.
In just five years, My House has contributed to job creation and brought a stable income for workers in Pleiku, especially the Giarai people. The proud owner says: “Most of the staff did not have professional training so I guide them as they learn on the job. Most important, I always tell them to be sincere when serving customers.
For the local community around here, My House is a closed food supply model. I assign households to certain tasks like raising pigs, chickens, growing vegetables, and to provide good, clean food for the restaurant. At the same time, visitors can experience what this self-contained operation is about. They see the various stages of production from watering the vegetables to picking and cooking them. Thanks to all this, since it opened the surrounding households have enjoyed a more stable livelihood.
In the early days, I faced many challenges such as staff letting me down or bad weather among other things. So there were many times that I could not meet the wishes of customers. But gradually I overcame these as I was determined to create a memorable tourist destination in Pleiku. My House is constantly consolidating, developing higher quality products and providing delicious food for visitors.
In addition, as the Vice-chairman of Gia Lai Tourism Association, I am involved in the construction of investment projects to bring tourists to other villages – in particular a village of ethnic Giarai people with over 100 households in the center of the city, about 4km away from My House. Hopefully, the village will soon become a tourist destination for visitors to Pleiku. It can add a lot to Central Highlands community tourism with its Rong [traditional communal] house, gong ceremonies and Pothi festival”.
“While My House has received much affection from tourists, I also received many proposals to develop the model in other places such as Thai Nguyen, Con Dao and Mang Den. I would want each locality to have a place along the same lines as the original. After all, I built the My House restaurant so that diners can enjoy the flavours of the surrounding area while feeling at home”.
Tourism Stories Viet Nam