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Vietnamese expat cooks up storm in Japan with diminutive dishes

Nguyen Thanh Hieu has made a name for himself in Japan with a hobby: going to great lengths to cook the smallest size Vietnamese and Japanese dishes.

On Sept. 30, Japanese public broadcaster NHK broadcast a two-minute video about Hieu, who lives in Kanagawa.

It noted that in a year, Hieu had very elaborately and meticulously made more than 100 dishes that were are as tiny as a fingertip.

Vietnamese expat, cooks up storm, Japan, diminutive dishes, Nguyen Thanh Hieu,  smallest size Vietnamese, Japanese dishes

 

Hieu had very elaborately and meticulously made more than 100 dishes that were are as tiny as a fingertip.

A day later, Nippon TV also introduced the dishes made by the IT engineer, a native of the central Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai. Hieu’s YouTube channel has more than 110,000 subscribers now of which 75 percent are Japanese, according to Nippon TV.

The idea of making tiny-sized dishes came to Hieu two years ago after watching an online video that taught people how to do it.

"I like cooking. And this is rarely done. So I thought that they will be well received," said Hieu.

In Dec. 2019, Hieu started making his first tiny dish. It was the Vietnamese traditional banh chun (square sticky rice cake), hoping to introduce Vietnamese culture to the Japanese. Then he made some other traditional dishes like bitter melon soup and pho.

Vietnamese expat, cooks up storm, Japan, diminutive dishes, Nguyen Thanh Hieu,  smallest size Vietnamese, Japanese dishes

He said he also hopes that his micro-cooking channel will contribute to introducing Vietnamese culture to international friends

To cook tiny dishes, cooking utensils have to be ordered from specialized stores for miniatures in Japan and abroad. Although they are small, their prices are high. For example, a refined metal pot costs VND400,000, higher than the price of a regular pot. Hieu also makes the utensils himself if he cannot find what he wants in the market. Recently, he bought an aluminum plate to make a mold for banh cuon (Vietnamese steamed rice crepe).

Hieu has had a passion for cooking since he was a child, and he got into his new hobby even though even cooking tiny dishes is much more difficult than normal-sized ones. He said he estimates the ingredients needed based on "feelings and experience."

Initially, the dishes did not come out well because his estimates were off; and he faced other challenges like finding the very tiny tools when they got lost. But his passion helped overcome the pains.

Hieu said that every time he finds the "right" dish, he finds related recipes and starts cooking and recording videos.

The tiny dishes "can’t just look good, they must also be delicious," so he makes them painstakingly, not missing a step. He also changes his video angles to attract viewers’ attention. In his kitchen, he has placed many dolls that are featured in his videos.

At first, Hieu used coal to cook the tiny dishes. But once, while making a bamkuchen (popular dessert cake in Japan), the coal burned the kitchen floor, so he switched to candles. Adjusting the fire when cooking tiny dishes is also a challenge.

Vietnamese expat, cooks up storm, Japan, diminutive dishes, Nguyen Thanh Hieu,  smallest size Vietnamese, Japanese dishes

Hieu said that every time he finds the "right" dish, he finds related recipes and starts cooking and recording videos.

Hieu, who lives alone, spends 3-5 hours recording each video. When his first videos were released, the audience commented that there was a lot of noise and saturated colors. He changed the microphone and made the color adjustments.

At first, the number of views for each video was very low, so he was discouraged and thought of giving up. Later, however, after he posted his videos on many different platforms, more and more people came to know of his work.

After receiving attention and recognition from mainstream Japanese media, Hieu said he was thrilled and proud because this does not happen very often in the Vietnamese expat community.

He said he also hopes that his micro-cooking channel will contribute to introducing Vietnamese culture to international friends. Many viewers in Japan have texted the Vietnamese man saying that they watch his videos every night before going to bed to relax. This has been his best reward so far.

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Source: VnExpress

Vietnamese expat, cooks up storm, Japan, diminutive dishes, Nguyen Thanh Hieu, smallest size Vietnamese, Japanese dishes
 
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