|Healthy hideout: Vu Canu's colourful array of fresh fruit brings much-needed flavour to 112 Hang Bong Street in the centre of Ha Noi .
by Ha Nguyen
One hot summer day, I took a group of my friends from the US around the capital city. Parched, fate landed us outside a fresh juice bar on 20 Quang Trung Street.
Displays adorned with a collage of fresh fruit and several young staff members welcomed us into the cafe and out of the oppressive heat.
The cafe operates on a strict policy on providing fresh fruit juices with clearly identifiable sources, with owner Vu Canu ordering fresh fruit from the southern and central regions of Viet Nam to use in his cafe.
"We have contracts with fruit suppliers in these regions to ensure that our fruit is fresh and contains no preservatives found in other produce," said Vu, adding that he and his family have worked with fresh fruit since they were young.
As friendly staff went to work making five different kinds of juices - including orange, grape, pomelo, watermelon and mulberry - we saw that no expense was spared to ensure fresh and clean juices. Employees wore rubber gloves and hygiene comforters, and used only freshest fruit in each juice. Vu ardently maintains a philosophy that safety and hygiene come first. And it shows.
|Juice desserts: A number of different fresh fruit juices at Vu's 69B Hai Ba Trung Street. — VNS Photos Doan Tung
Prices are extremely reasonable and vary between VND25,000-40,000 (US$1-2). The variety of choices at your fingertips for this price is mind boggling, for example, there are 30 different kinds of banana juice.
One of our brood even tried the fresh green banana juice - both strange in flavour and fragrant. "The taste is hard to describe. The only way is for you to try it yourself," she said.
But this cafe isn't one to rest on its laurels and the staff were eager for our feedback.
"We are always ready to hear any ideas and feedback from customers. It's very helpful for us," said Vu.
His full name is Luong Nguyen Vu, from the central city of Nha Trang. He set up his business in Ha Noi 13 years ago with money he borrowed from relatives and friends.
"First I encountered a lot of difficulties, such as finding a suitable place to open our shops because I had no relatives in Ha Noi. I had to carefully study Hanoian tastes by asking every customer," he recalled.
|Local produce: All of Vu's fresh fruits are grown in Viet Nam.
It's easy to see his hard work is paying off. His keen empathy for Hanoian tastebuds and fresh ingredients have attracted a strong local following.
"Now we can serve the most hard-to-please customers with our quality produce and wide selection of fruit juices," Vu told me.
One Hanoian high school student, Truong Thu Hang, said since discovering Vu's shops, she and her friends won't go anywhere else.
"We've become regulars at Vu shops because there are hundreds of fruit juices to choose from. But the most important thing is that since we started drinking here, none of us have had food poisoning," Hang said.
With testimonials like these and plans to open another shop on 31 Ba Trieu Street this November, this won't be the last we see the fruits of Vu's labour. — VNS
Vu Canu's Fresh Juice
Add: 20 Quang Trung; 112 Hang Bong; 69B Hai Ba Trung and
35 Ham Long, Ha Noi.
Hours: from 9am-9pm
Price Range: VND25,000-40,000
Dishes to try: fresh juice fruits of avocado, mangrove and many others
Comments: Reasonable prices, 100 per cent fresh fruit juices and nice behaviour of staff.