by Bạch Liên
Viet Nam News -Over the last three years, many local people living on Tô Ngọc Vân Street (Tây Hồ District) have come to know a smiling chef with blond hair, who loves talking to them about Vietnamese gastronomy.
The chef is Shahar Lubin, owner and chef of Daluwa restaurant and bar, the first and only “Middle Eastern gastropub” in Hà Nội.
In addition to serving typical Middle-East fare, this Israeli chef’s restaurant also offers an interesting mix of dishes from Israel and the US, combining them with interesting indigenous flavours and ingredients. Many people here enjoy the original mixed dishes he spends a lot of time and passion creating.
Lubin says the vast majority of Daluva’s ingredients are sourced locally. His tagines use Vietnamese salted limes, instead of lemons, for example; his taramosalata has nước mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce), instead of salted fish roe.
His shuk shuka (tomato cooked with egg), the most popular food in Israel, is also cooked with the special flavour of nước mắm from Việt Nam.
As he explains with a smile, it is difficult not to add the special flavour of nước mắm to dishes while living in Viet Nam.
“It was a blast to create such a special menu. It was my love letter to all my homes. The one I was born in, the one I grew up in, and the one I moved to. Bringing the best flavors of all those counties to the fore, all while using the best local ingredients Việt Nam has to offer,” he said on the website tripadvisor.com, responding to a compliment of a client who appreciated the dishes he tasted during his visits to Việt Nam.
Shahar Lubin was born in Israel but grew up in the US. Then he decided to settle in Việt Nam.
In January, his restaurant cooperated with the Israeli embassy to organise Vietnam-Israel Gastronomy Friendship Week. He presented to the public original dishes on the Israeli-Vietnamese fusion menu.
Many were happily surprised to taste typical dishes of Việt Nam, including nem cuốn (fresh spring rolls), bún chả (grilled pork with vermicelli), fried đậu phụ (tofu), cooked with different ingredients and flavours of Israel and Việt Nam.
One of the highlights of the menu was Lubin’s quirky reinterpretation of bún chả, a Hà Nội street-food medley of grilled pork, vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs. Lubin nixed the pork and replaced it with falafel (a traditional Middle Eastern food).
“He is a very creative chef,” said Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to Việt Nam.
Love of Vietnamese gastronomy
Lubin said that his love for Vietnamese gastronomy motivated him to come to Hà Nội and determine to stay in this city. After coming here, he was attracted by many other things in Hà Nội, too.
“Before coming to Việt Nam, I worked for several years in the US and spent some years travelling all around the world. I got to know about Vietnamese culture in the US. I love Vietnamese gastronomy. When I first came in Hà Nội in 2009, I loved this city at first sight. I decided I would have to try to move and live in this city,” he confided.
When living in the US, Shahar Lubin worked as a consultant at several restaurants. Finally, he decided to settle in Hà Nội and open his own restaurant.
“As a chef, I want to contribute my efforts to life here by training other cooks. I have trained several cooks in my restaurant. And I have learned many things from them,” he said.
Hà Nội has always seduced him with its simplicity, its dynamism and the openness of the local inhabitants.
“This city won my heart. I love the dynamism of the city and the kindness of the people. It’s wonderful to be part of it.”
Even though Lubin has lived in Hà Nội for more than six years, each day living in this city is a new day for him.
For him, simple happiness is beginning the morning with a bowl of hot phở (rice noodles) or a bowl of hot bún sườn (rib pork vermicelli soup), sipping a cup of green tea, talking with local inhabitants, then walking around West Lake while watching the fast moving stream of people.
“Several years have passed. But I never felt bored. The city is continuously changing, moving, and surprising me.”
“The food here in Hà Nội never stops moving. Like its inhabitants”, he said. — VNS