LIVE TO EAT: We HEART Vietnam Kitchen.

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Kevin does a fine job of capturing the little things that compel us to “love” a restaurant — the food, the service, the people and their back story.

It’s very much worth remembering how the Lam family came to America as immigrants, a tale reminiscent of the one told to me last year by August Moon Chinese Bistro’s Mimi Dabbagh when I profiled her for Food & Dining Magazine.

At a time when we’re awash in rudeness, narcissism and plain stupidity, it’s instructive to consider these examples of the American Dream in practice, not just theory.

Vietnam Kitchen, a ‘favorite restaurant in Louisville,’ turns 25, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

 … If the early years of the restaurant were a bit of a struggle, things are sailing along smoothly now. Lam saved up just enough to buy the restaurant in 1993, they created the best menu and food they knew how, and word of mouth took care of the rest.

“We said, ‘When we open this restaurant, we just have to have enough to buy the restaurant,’” he recalled. “And then we were nervous. ‘Will the people in Louisville know about (Vietnamese) food?’ Then they came over and they loved how good, and they (sent) more people.”

For years, Roger Baylor of New Albany and his wife made it a tradition to dine at Vietnam Kitchen every Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas. These days, the restaurant is closed on Thanksgiving, so Christmas dinner is now the norm each year.

“Vietnam Kitchen just hits a sweet spot,” said Baylor, who estimates he’s been going there about a dozen years. “It is welcoming, the food is great and the overall value exceptional. You know a restaurant is doing is right when it transcends the crappy strip mall design — shotgun, acoustic ceiling tiles and such — and feels warm and homey even in the cold weather.”

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