Last April 12, Sochi Saigonese Kitchen posted a photo on Instagram. It would have been just another normal IG post but unexpectedly, many Chicago customers, casual diners, and friends gave their congratulatory messages. The comment section was soon filled with celebration. The great news? They received a Bib Gourmand from Michelin!
How It Started
Son Do and Chinh Pham are the masterminds behind Sochi. In fact, the name of this chow place came from a combination of their name, “So” and “Chi.” Son and Chinh’s tale started as a love story of two high school sweethearts from Saigon, Vietnam. The pair dreamt and accomplished so much together, from studying business in Singapore and Australia, working multiple jobs, and migrating to America seeking a better life for their children.
The whole family from Saigon then settled in Chicago. Amidst all these struggles, they have “found hope and love in food” which became a gateway to start their dream restaurant. Chinh revealed that although they didn’t have a concept, they were clear with what kind of restaurant they wanted to put up, saying “we would love to have a restaurant where families and friends could come to enjoy our homey dishes, that we always cook back home for our families and friends.”
Lo and behold, Sochi is now an avenue where they can share the cuisine of the place where their story started. The dishes that were once for their own families and friends have become a restaurant where Chicagoans’ families and friends come to enjoy. Sochi offers an exquisite menu of elevated authentic Vietnamese cuisine available for takeout, delivery, and–the kind that we missed the most–dine-in.
How Faith Fostered Many Feats
Building a business is no easy task. More so for two non-locals who did not know anything about the law. Chinh shared that they were bullied, rejected, and “received many negative [pieces of] advice” as this dream was deemed utterly not doable for them. However, with their brave Vietnamese hearts, they insisted on facing the risks and working on the consequences. “It looked like we overcame most of the crazy things in the process,” Chinh said. “Believe me, we are still facing a lot of things [that] until now, we have no idea how to overcome.” People would normally be shaken by this uncertainty but Chinh humbly pronounced how the duo’s strength stayed relentless: “Keep[ing] our small faith tightly within us, that everything will be ok.”
This tight faith has fostered their many feats: studying business abroad, migrating their family to America, and now, opening a restaurant during a time it was said to be the most impossible–during the pandemic. Chinh called it a miracle to be able to survive until today. “We could not know how we survived until today. One thing I know is that Sochi has been receiving a lot of love and support from the Lakeview community and customers.”
Surely, this love could not have come from anywhere. When asked what was Sochi’s representative dish, Chinh answered, “There is no dish on the menu representing Sochi, one thing that represents Sochi is we cook with our love and care [is] present in every dish. We love to see when customers enjoy our food.” This sincere answer proved that love indeed begets love.
Their Secret Recipe
Now, it’s no secret that this flourishing restaurant has a powerful, working recipe: Chinh and Son’s faith and belief in each other, and their consistent sprinkle of love in every dish. Corny as it may sound but this recipe has worked so well that it created their latest win: a Bib Gourmand from Michelin! For those who don’t know, a Bib Gourmand is a recognition given by Michelin for “friendly establishments that serve good food at moderate prices.” This may be different from a Star but it is as equally esteemed despite being in a different category.
Chinh considered this as an unexpected blessing, saying that they “did not think or expect” getting a Bib Gourmand. “The whole process was just we worked and have been working like crazy to survive in order to feed our family.”
When asked what their next step is, Chinh admitted to not having any yet. She explained, “I don't have any plan at the moment for Sochi because we are still finding ways to complete ourselves.” She didn’t elaborate more but she confessed that they are releasing a new dish soon! No further details were revealed but we can be certain that, much like how they conquered their previous ventures, this one will also have their secret recipe.
For now, all that we can ever wish is that whatever adventures they may go through, may their secret recipe bring forth more milestones for them, for their business, and for their family. We can't wait to see where Sochi is heading!