Hoa Sua and Koto Restaurants
Both these establishments are in Hanoi,
and both are charitable foundations training young disadvantaged
young people to learn catering skills. Both are also good places
to eat well-prepared interesting food, enjoy enthusiastic (and sometimes
eccentric) service at a reasonable price whilst helping young boys
and girls towards a better future.
Both restaurants operate in a similar
way, recruiting what have become known as ‘street kids’, unemployed
youngsters who, for a variety of reasons, have found themselves
having to make a living on their own and are consequently highly
vulnerable to drug abuse, prostitution and/or crime.
Hoa Sua is a French organisation and
has been in operation for about ten years. It has around 350 youngsters
undergoing training at any one time, and runs a large ‘catering
school’ facility near the city. The curriculum covers all aspects
of the catering trade as well as teaching French and English. Once
a student has reached the required level of competence, he or she
will then work in the restaurants or one of the other outlets.
The enterprise has expanded over the
years and, apart from the main restaurant, now includes an upmarket
boulangerie, a coffee and light meals café, a handicraft and clothing
outlet, and a mini-hotel in Sapa. The latter is a special project
designed to help children and young people from poor families in
an area of limited educational and career opportunities. Read
more about the Hoa Sua Hotel and/or the Sapa
The Hoa Sua restaurant is sited in
a restored villa in the centre of Hanoi, and offers both French
and Vietnamese cuisine. It has a commendable wine list and an imaginative
a la carte menu as well as daily specials, and offers excellent
value. The standard of waiting at table can be idiosyncratic at
times when new trainees are settling in, but normally the quality
of service puts even some of the city's top restaurants and hotels
Koto (an anagram for ‘Know One, Teach
One’) is run by a Viet Kieu (overseas Vietnamese) called Jimmy Pham.
It’s on a smaller scale than the Hoa Sua, training about a dozen
students at a time. At present, it is based in a restaurant across
the road from the Van Mieu Temple of Literature.
It’s a popular place for lunch and
offers an interesting selection of light meals, and there are plans
to extend its capacity.
The success criteria is simple – employment!
Graduates from both organisations are very much in demand by hotels
and restaurants in Hanoi and elsewhere, and many young people now
have good careers and excellent prospects.
We recommend both the Hoa Sua and Koto
to all our customers, and encourage them to support a worthwhile
initiative that make a real difference to young people’s lives –
and you’ll enjoy the food!