Hai Truong: Chef and co-owner of Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
Hai Truong is an autodidact, having taught himself how to swap out a clutch, sew a leather seat for his Moto Guzzi, cook a mean duck phở, or brew his own beer.
Truong is the son of immigrants and grew up in and around his family’s Vietnamese eatery on St. Paul’s University Avenue. Though he had a promising career in finance after college, the pull of the family business inspired a life change, and about ten years ago he reclaimed the restaurant where he grew up, put his DIY skills to work and created Ngon Bistro.
The cafe specializes in French-Vietnamese cuisine and offers craft cocktails from a space that Truong resurrected from its past. The menu is filled with familiar Vietnamese specialties like phở and bún but with influences from Vietnam’s French colonial era, and produce and proteins bought from local farms.
Local sourcing also extends to Truong’s choice of footwear. “I sort of discovered Red Wing boots around the same time I started looking into local ingredients and it led to an interest in American-made products.” Truong wears an old pair of Engineer boots that he’s had resoled a few times, and owns two pairs of vintage steel-toed Red Wings that he likes for motorcycling. “I like that you can just keep resoling them instead of buying cheap disposable stuff,” he says.
Boots of Choice: Engineer 2991