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CHEF VINH BRINGS AN UNFORGETTABLE SUSHI EXPERIENCE TO YOUR KITCHEN TABLE
Sushi By Vinh has become a household name in Edmonton, with his private parties booking up almost a year in advance. His customized weekly sushi boxes have seen similar success, selling out instantly every week. So how has Vinh created such a successful brand and what does this talented chef have planned next?
It all started in 2014 when a friend asked Vinh to help him host an impromptu birthday party. Vinh arrived with nothing but a fish and his knife, unexpectedly slicing out a new private dining experience that would grip the attention of sushi lovers across Edmonton.
Sushi By Vinh is now a highly sought-after ten-course dining experience that brings uniquely curated sushi dishes to the comfort of your own home. Based on the Japanese phrase omakase, meaning ‘I leave it up to you’, Vinh crafts intricate plates that are fueled by his own creative intuition and the occasional input from his guests.
The pictures you see on Instagram do an alright job of showcasing the intimate and exciting experience Vinh brings to your kitchen. But to witness this personalized sushi bar for yourself is a whole different story.
The atmosphere is electric; the hushed sounds of chatter and wine glasses clinking together create the perfect backdrop for the evenings’ main entertainment — Vinh and his knife, slicing fresh cuts of fish with ultimate precision.
“The idea is to bring you an experience where you would only get in a controlled environment. But yet, every single time I show up, I have to control that environment.”
“The hardest part,” explains Vinh, “is setting up the right atmosphere for you to have the right feeling. I want to make sure that you guys don’t have anything to worry about.”
Vinh starts off the evening with classic appetizers like beef tataki and tuna hand rolls. As the night and courses progress, he explores more creative territories, taking a less-is-more approach with the elements he introduces.
Flavours that are both explosive and buttery, rich in depth and balance. Dinner guests are drawn in further with each interpretation, and leave the night with a fresh appreciation for ingredients they otherwise might never have tried.
“How about let me decide what you should eat. I think that’s my selling point. Because I want to make sure that you have a different experience, that’s not like going to a restaurant. It’s different every time.”
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Sushi Box By Vinh
Originally born in Vietnam, Vinh immigrated with his mother to Canada when he was ten-years-old. His culinary journey began nine years after that, where he trained in a number of different sushi restaurants across Edmonton.
“It was tough at first, man,” says Vinh.
“Maybe you cook the rice and he cuts the fish? No, not even that. Just wash the rice and mop the floor and sweep. Learn how to handle a knife. Cut veggies first. Probably one of the hardest things to do is to cut cucumbers.”
Fast-forward to 2021 and Sushi By Vinh has over 25,000 followers on Instagram and a year-long waitlist for reservations. With the pandemic putting a hold on in-person gatherings, Vinh has created a new way for people to experience his skills — a curated sushi box that sells out each week in under 20 seconds.
You read that right.
“It’s actually 17 to 18 seconds, give or take,” smiles Vinh.
“We deliver the box every single time. We don’t use Skip The Dishes, or another brand because every step has to be the way I want it to be. It has to be cold, and delivered from the kitchen to your house in a certain amount of time. I want it to be perfect.”
It appears perfection has been achieved, with hundreds of Instagrammers vying to get their order in and bragging to their friends when their rare boxes of sushi arrive.
When Vinh speaks, you instantly feel the passion he has for his craft. Part of his success is unquestionably attributed to that intensity. A natural-born entertainer in an apron, Vinh is an added guest to each of his dinners.
Combine his vibrant personality and laser-like attention to detail with a successful social media strategy, and you have Sushi By Vinh. There is no element of luck in his success; rather, years of experience exploring a myriad of flavours and techniques, all meant to bring his dinner guests an unforgettable night of dining.
What’s Next For Vinh?
In a post-pandemic world, the future might look more mobile for Vinh, whose sights are set on exploring opportunities in other cities.
“I want to be able to pick up my knife and just do it in another city. [Edmonton] is not small, but it’s not a big city either. So eventually, you know, I want to travel.”
For the time being, he continues to find new ways to wow Edmontonians with his sushi boxes, pushing the envelope of expectations with each cut of fish. His advice for those looking to create a successful brand of their own?
“Just focus on the things you’re good at. If you know that you’re good at something, keep going. Don’t give up. Even though it seems like such a big step.”