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40 Open a Restaurant in Noryangjin 1

 Gun-Ho finally decided to open a Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant in Noryangjin; he wanted to serve cheap and delicious pho.

There was a Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant in Noryangjin already which was located in a back street across the Noryangjin Station. That street was on the town bus line and there were Shinhan Bank and a private institution for government job exams. That restaurant was so popular that it was even introduced on KBS (one of Korean TV stations). The owner's wife was a young Vietnamese woman.

"The owner used to sell Cupbab on a tented cart on the street in front of the private prep-institution for government job exams. If he could do it, then I can do it too."

Gun-Ho believed he could handle a Vietnamese noodle soup well comparing to other dishes. He recalled his mom's noodle soup he often had from his childhood. She made the soup with anchovy, spring onions and soy sauce. She poured the soup over boiled noodle already prepared.

"Cooking the Vietnamese rice noodle shouldn't be so different from cooking the Korean wheat noodle."

Gun-Ho went to the Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant again. He secretly took pictures of their dishes, the interior, and the restaurant sign.

"The best location is probably the street where a lot of students from the private prep-institution for government job exams are passing by every day. However, the traditional market street is not bad either."

Noryangjin is a mecca for whatever exam preparatory private institutions. Most institutions provide prep-courses for government job exams or the police exam.

"Let's open the restaurant on the Daiso street passing the gas station across the street. There is no noodle soup restaurant there. The Vietnamese restaurant already here is run by a Vietnamese lady. If I open another Vietnamese restaurant, will people think the food is not authentic but it is fake Vietnamese food? Maybe not. Maybe people will like mine better if I reduce some strong smell from Vietnamese authentic ingredients and add some Korean flavor."

Gun-Ho continuously researched and collected useful information for his restaurant business. He already printed out the Vietnamese noodle soup recipe found on the Internet.

"I can easily purchase some of the ingredients such as Chili sauce and Sriracha online but let's visit the wholesale store in Ansan. I have seen the pictures of those ingredients but never actually seen them in person."

Gun-Ho decided to go to that store in Asan using the subway.

Gun-Ho took the subway line 1 to go to the Geumjeong Station. He, then, changed to line 4.

"I see many foreigners in the subway in this area."

Foreigners are not new to Gun-Ho. He had seen foreign workers when he worked at the plastic factory in Hwaseong, and other factories in Pocheon and Yangju. However, it appeared that there were way more foreigners found in this particular area.

When he got off at the Ansan Station, his thought about the foreigners was confirmed. Once he crossed the street via underground passage; there were a lot of foreigners sitting on the ground: the ethnic Koreans living in China, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and even people with darker skin from India. Some people had a beard, and some were wearing turbans.

"Wow, I feel like I am in another country. I've never expected to see this many foreigners in Korea."

Many business signs were written in another language- probably Vietnamese or Thai. Some of them were written in Chinese for Chinese people.

"Korea is now a country of multi-culture."

Gun-Ho enjoyed looking around the market; he even forgot for the moment that he came here to buy Vietnamese food ingredients. He felt his legs got tired when he saw a wholesale store, 'World Market.'

He entered the store. The small store was filled with foreign products and people. Gun-Ho wedged himself into the crowd all the way to the counter. He then showed the picture saved in his smartphone to the person standing behind the counter.

"This is a Vietnamese sauce. Do you carry it here?"

"It's on the shelf over there."

The same red bottle he saw in the picture was placed on the shelf. When he saw the sauce, he got goosebumps and it was strange.

"This is the one!"

He found the rice noodle as well. The dried rice noodle was packaged in a vinyl wrap.

"Sir, how much is this rice noodle?"

"Are you going to sell them?"

"Yes, I am."

"Then, I can give it to you for a discounted price. Is it for Thai restaurant?"

"No. Vietnamese restaurant."

"The noodle you are holding is Thai noodle made in Thai. It's 5 millimeters in width."

"Oh, it's a Thai noodle? The letters on the package look like Vietnamese-alphabets with some dots on top of them."

"The one next to it, that is the Vietnamese noodle. Its name is written in Korean too. Do you see that? Banh Pho Kho?"

"Oh, I see it. Thank you. I will take this."

"It's 500 grams for each package. How many do you need?"

"Umm... Let me look around for other sauces first. I will let you know by then."


The owner was busy with other customers, so he didn't pay attention to Gun-Ho anymore.

Gun-Ho placed several sauces and a few rice noodles in his basket. He hesitated to take more bottles of sauce because he had to carry them, and they were heavy.

"I think this should be enough to practice at home."

Gun-Ho wanted to try to cook the rice noodle by himself at home.

"I have to know how to cook the noodle soup so I don't get swayed by the cooking ladies in my restaurant kitchen."

Gun-Ho brought his basket with several bottles of sauces and rice noodles to the counter.

"I thought you were going to open a restaurant. Are you sure this is all you need?"

"Yes, for now. I haven't opened a restaurant yet. I just need some for practice for now."

"Where are you opening your restaurant?"

"In Noryangjin."

"There is one in Noryangjin already."

"I know. Mine will be several blocks away from that restaurant."

The store owner nodded his head.

"You will be fine with your restaurant since the area is filled with tons of exam preparers. Take our business card with you. We provide delivery as well if you need for later."

"Thank you. I will come again."

Gun-Ho went to the subway station with the ingredients he purchased. It felt light when he left the store, but now his arms felt tender after carrying the bags all the way to the subway station.

"Well, this is my first step to succeed in business. Once I become rich and someone comes to interview me for my success, I would say, "I used to carry heavy bags of ingredients by myself from the store in Ansan all the way to Noryangjin. I had to endure the pain on my arms."

Gun-Ho smiled delightedly thinking of what he would say when he succeeded.

Gun-Ho started cooking the noodle soup. He bought fresh ingredients from a traditional market: beef, bean sprouts, garlic, spring onions, onions, gingers, etc. He purchased hot peppers and cilantro from a supermarket. He didn't know what cilantro was until this time. It was a vegetable smelled like a bedbug and looked like water parsley. It had to be added to the noodle soup for an authentic taste of Vietnamese noodle soup.

"For beef, I have to soak it in cold water to let the blood out of the meat."

His room got messy from his cooking practice.

"First time is always hard. It will get easier after a lot of practice. Aw, it's hot. I should be careful with the soup; it's really hot."

His noodle soup looked somewhat similar to the noodle soup sold in a Vietnamese restaurant.

"I can prepare fresh ingredients by washing them and to have them ready to use. The soup is easy. I can just use these sauces I bought from the store. Then all that is left is for me to make money from this. Let me try my noodle soup."

Gun-Ho tried the noodle soup he just cooked.

"Not bad at all. It doesn't taste any different than the one that the Vietnamese lady cooked."

Well, people are usually very generous in evaluating their own dish. Gun-Ho truly enjoyed his own noodle soup. He wanted to serve it to Jong-Suk or his parents if they were here with him.

"Okay, let's sell it for 3,500 won, and let's make 300 sales of this noodle soup per day. That makes me earn 31,500,000 won per month. The ingredients won't cost much. If I add the rent and labor and other stuff necessary, the total expense will be about 20,000,000 won. Then the profit on a monthly basis will be 10,000,000 won. Well, if I can sell 400 noodle soups instead of 300, then I will make 42,000,000 won with 15,000,000 profit per month. If that happens, I can acquire one more restaurant."

Gun-Ho was dreaming while doing the math of how much he would make, and how further he could get if he succeeded.