In the heart of Brooklyn, a Vietnamese-American bakery called Bạn Bè is stirring up more than just delectable desserts. It is leading a new wave of culinary innovation that beautifully blends cultural traditions with a touch of Western influence. Bạn Bè captures the essence of Vietnamese heritage and offers a delightful experience for both the taste buds and the soul.
Preserving Cultural Heritage Through Food
For Doris Hồ-Kane, baking is a way to preserve her Vietnamese culture. Hồ-Kane’s family moved to the United States with nothing but the memories they held dear. As the Vietnamese community grew in Dallas, specialty grocers began importing essential ingredients, including agar, a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed. This opened up new possibilities for Hồ-Kane’s family, allowing them to recreate the fruit jellies known as thạch rau câu with their signature bouncy texture.
Blending Traditions With Western Flavors
After moving to New York City for higher studies, Hồ-Kane discovered that baking offered her solace and a means to express herself. She began developing her own dessert recipes, incorporating Vietnamese flavors into Western-style treats. One of her early successes was a line of butter cookies inspired by the beloved Royal Dansk Danish Butter Cookies. Her versions feature unique Vietnamese twists, such as ube, sesame, and tamarind flavors.
The Birth of Bạn Bè:
Hồ-Kane’s creations gained popularity among friends and family, leading her to open Bạn Bè in February 2021. The bakery provides a daily-changing menu, showcasing sweet and sometimes savory options inspired by her upbringing. Each dish she creates is a reflection of her personal experiences and a celebration of Vietnamese-American heritage. So, if you find yourself in Brooklyn, make sure to visit Bạn Bè and indulge in the delightful treats that will transport you to the vibrant world of Vietnamese-American flavors. It’s a place to find emotional connections to their memories, nostalgia, and representation.