New Vietnamese joint to spice up downtown

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Tu Le is taking a bit of risk with his newest venture.

The St. Albert restaurateur plans to open a third downtown eatery in the spring.

While his two other joints either put a spin on a classic (Jack’s Burger) or fills a void (Cerdo is the only full-service authentic Mexican restaurant in St. Albert), Le’s new establishment, Ong, will bring something completely different to the St. Albert and Edmonton food-scenes: Hanoi-style fried chicken.

Le got the idea from his latest travels to his hometown of Hanoi. Fast food in Vietnam’s capital city has been on the rise since Kentucky Fried Chicken first opened its doors in 2006.

The addition of Popeye’s has fueled the fried chicken “craze.”

But what makes Hanoi chicken different from the other parts of the world is that it is eaten with traditional Vietnamese condiments like fish sauce and chile sauce.

It’s that concept Le hopes will catch on in Edmonton’s capital region.

Risky? “Absolutely,” said Le. “Not a lot of people are familiar with cuisine from north Vietnam.”

But after two successes he says it’s time to branch out and try something different.

“I’ve always stuck to my guns and I’ve been blessed so far,” he said.

This same assurance played into the location of his new restaurant. While some may harp on the quaint Perron District, Le is a firm believer in its potential. He believes that downtown St. Albert is poised to become a dining destination.

“I love it. I think it’s a great place to do business,” he said.

The new restaurant will be located in the same building as Le’s other two joints – in the space that currently houses Wheelz. The scooter business is relocating to a bigger space in Riel Park.

Le takes possession of the space in February and is planning an April launch.

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Michelle Ferguson