By Per Peterson
Vee Moua has one rule in her new Asian restaurant on Hwy. 14: Don’t order a burger.
“I welcome everyone who likes to try new stuff,” she said. “Just don’t ask for a hamburger.”
Moua, along with her husband, Chong Wa Yang, opened the Asian Market and Deli last Tuesday. They are renting the building on Hwy. 14 for now. She said she has wanted to get into the food business for some time, but couldn’t because of her commitment to taking care of her ailing mother, who died recently.
“She passed away and I thought, ‘OK, it’s time to follow my dream,” she said. “My kids are happy, very excited. I wish my mom were here to celebrate this with me, but I think she knows. I wanted to wait for her to get better, but …”
Moua came to the U.S. from Laos in 2004 with her mother, two brothers and two sisters. They lived in Marshall to begin with before moving to Tracy. She said diving into the food service industry has been a bit intimidating.
“It’s kind of scary; I’m nervous,” she said. “When I go to a restaurant I see them work and it looks so easy. I say, ‘I think I can do that,’ but you have to go behind the counter and do everything else. The process of doing this and that … I think we’re getting the hang of it.”
Moua is known in local Hmong circles as an accomplished cook, so her clientele right now is predominantly people from her native land. She wants to change that, however, and give everyone who have a taste for Asian food an option that doesn’t require a 20-minute drive.
“The Hmong community knows that I do some cooking,” she said. “One of my main dishes is Pho, which is a Vietnamese dish very popular in the (Twin) Cities, Sioux Falls.”
Moua said even though her restaurant has been open for only a few days, she quickly came to appreciate others who work in the restaurant business.
“You think it’s so easy, and if you mess up an order the customer gets mad … I used to work in fast food, but I didn’t own it and now I understand why it sometimes takes so long to get your food,” she said. “It’s a challenge.”
For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.