“I’m a proud immigrant refugee and it’s a story that I want to share with people,” says Lisa Tran, owner of Vietnamese restaurant Tân Tân in Portland, Oregon. Her parents fled Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975, escaping to a refugee camp in Indonesia where Tran was born.
“In Indonesia, my mom was pregnant with me and she craved all of these foods and sauces that weren’t available in a refugee camp,” she says. “They got really resourceful and used what ingredients they could find to make it as much of a reminder of home as they could.”
Later settling near Portland, Oregon, the Tran family opened their restaurant in 1998 to bring those same comforting flavors to their community. After noticing customers asking the restaurant team to fill jars with sauce to take home, Tran launched what would become the first Vietnamese hoisin sauce on the market—a more nuanced one than punchy Chinese hoisin—that blooms on the palate with notes of cardamom and a subtle sweetness.
“Tân Tân in Vietnamese, it means ‘new new.’ But if you’re speaking it in a sentence, it means ‘new beginning.’”