Phuong and James Graham run the popular Viet Q food truck in Matakana. This culinary treasure sells a range of Vietnamese delights such rice paper rolls and pork steam buns, as well as lemongrass chilli chicken, crispy noodle salad and beef stir fry. They also have a rotating cast of specials – pho noodle soup, Vietnamese savoury pancakes and pork belly braised in a coconut and caramel sauce. Perfect examples of what Phuong Graham calls “fresh, authentic Vietnamese comfort street food.”
Phuong Graham’s background in food comes from her love for Vietnamese cuisine. After moving to New Zealand in 1985, Phuong discovered that there was very little food from her home nation available. As a result, she spent a lot of time cooking with her mother and friends, going on to complete a Food Science degree at Massey University. She then spent eight years running a winery in Marlborough before marriage and children led to her make the decision to leave and work on something that she loved. The pair started their stall at the Matakana Farmers Market twelve years ago, and branched out into the world of food trucks in 2014. “We decided that a food truck would be a fun little venture and also enable me to cook different foods and introduce these to the locals,” she said.
There are a number of unique Vietnamese ingredients that Graham is introducing to the Kiwi palate especially when it comes to herbs, most of which are not generally available for purchase. Viet Q uses a lot of Vietnamese mint, perilla, rice paddy herb, fish mint, saw tooth coriander and garlic chives, which are grown by her family. Among the more unusual ingredients are shrimp paste and wood ear fungus mushroom, although Graham notes that nothing is too unusual now that Asian cuisine is increasing in popularity.
The Viet Q food truck is based in Matakana and can be found on Thursday evenings 5-8pm, Fridays 11-8 and at the Matakana Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8-1. They’ve also worked a number of events such as weddings. The success of the truck over summer has lead to Viet Q opening on an extra night, as well as a rapid expansion of the team which now consists of four more part-time staff. Despite this success there are no immediate plans to start a restaurant – but never say never. “If the perfect location came available and I think I can cope without disadvantaging my family life in any way then yes, possibly!”
At the moment, though, Graham is content with how things are.
“I’ll just keep doing what I enjoy doing and seeing where this journey takes us.”