By Chris Fish
TITUSVILLE -- As an engineer, Tuan Le understands why things work.
"I want to know why something works the way that it does," he said. "I don't want to just temporarily fix it, I want to understand the entire process."
It is with his scientific mind that Mr. Le has transferred his interest to an area that also surprises him: cooking.
"Cooking is a hobby of mine," he said. "When I married my wife, (Chung Nguyen), she said she hoped to open a restaurant someday because she knew that I can cook. This is making my wife's dream come true, as well as exploring my hobby."
Since May, VietRiver has offered truly authentic Vietnamese cuisine to the city of Titusville, something Mr. Le said he understands from his life growing up in Vietnam.
"I was raised in a poor family," he said. "I would cook for my family when my parents were working, so I had to learn how to cook."
It was by cooking his entire life that Mr. Le learned how to prepare authentic Vietnamese food, something he said that a lot of people may be unfamiliar with.
"Before the Vietnam war was over, a lot of people knew how to cook traditionally, but, when it ended, ingredients became expensive, and people began to take shortcuts," he said. "Next generations didn't know how to cook."
To cook authentic Vietnamese cuisine, Mr. Le uses his scientific background to fully understand "why things work," including making sure each temperature is set correctly and each dish has the right amount of spices added for the perfect flavor.
"If something sits for too long, or it becomes too salty, I won't serve it," he said. "I only want to serve top-quality dishes."
Now, after years of taking care of his younger siblings, Mr. Le's family have all pitched in to help make VietRiver a success, including his mother, who most of his recipes originated from.
"Everything is good here," he said. "It's hard to say what doesn't do well because everything sells very well. I always want to keep my menu fresh, but it is hard to see where (there is a weakness)."
Also, the food isn't the only spectacular component of VietRiver, as the inside dining area is decorated stylistically French, to both honor the French culture that affects Vietnam and to create a cultured experience for diners.
"People travel everywhere in the world," Mr. Le said. "I want to be the first person to cook authentic food with an environment. It is up to you to decide what is a quality dining experience and what is a cheap experience. I hope what I am doing can carry on to the next level to create more (quality) dining experiences."
VietRiver is located at 1817 S. Washington Ave. in Titusville and is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 9:30 p.m.
For more information, call (321) 600-0880.