Written by Colleen Maidhof Saturday, 18 January 2014 00:00
Farmingdale residents with a hankering for crunchy spring rolls now have an outlet to remedy their cravings. Long Island’s first Vietnamese restaurant, The Rolling Spring Roll, opened shop on Main St. in Farmingdale, last July, giving local foodies a chance to experience something unique without leaving the neighborhood.
Joe Bui, the restaurant’s owner and chef, said that he came to the Village of Farmingdale with the goal of giving residents a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
“I wanted to create an alternative to lunches and dinners that people normally have,” Bui said. “This is the kind of food that I want to present to people, and that they get a craving for.”
Bui and his family immigrated to Long Island as refugees from Vietnam in 1980. In 2011, with assistance from his mother, Bui opened a food truck in Melville called The Rolling Spring Roll, after his mother’s decadent spring roll recipe, which, he said, everyone falls in love with.
Because he needed a larger space to cook that wasn’t too far from his regular clientele, Bui decided to call Main St. home to his stationary storefront.
“I saw this place, and I knew my followers from my food truck would come here and support me,” he said. “My mom introduced me to cooking when I was very young, and I also worked at restaurants. From my experiences, I learned what tastes good as well as the techniques of cooking.”
Inspired by his love of cooking and his mother’s special recipe, Bui wanted to provide customers with an array of what he defines as “casual” Vietnamese cuisine.
“My menu is simple with sandwiches, grilled meats, soups, rolls, and platters. Even though the menu is stated the way it is, we can mix the items up,” Bui said. “Everything that we make is from scratch. I can’t go to the supermarket to buy Vietnamese sauce.”
Since many specialty food stores don’t include his key ingredients, Bui said he takes the time to make his own cold cuts, broth and sauces.
For Bui, Vietnamese cuisine is one-of-a-kind, as a combination of culinary influence from French and Chinese conquerers.
“So the food is an incorporation of the two cultures,” Bui said. “The Vietnamese nation consists of a mostly vegetarian diet, with some meats.”
The Rolling Spring Roll started as an experiment for Bui, who was unsure how Long Islanders were going to react to a Vietnamese restaurant.
“I don’t know how there are thousands of Long Islanders, and there wasn’t a Vietnamese restaurant up until a few months ago,” he laughed. “If I didn’t open the restaurant someone else would have eventually.”
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 516-586-6097.