Asian cuisine travels north, from Manchester to Concord next month 

Trumin Nguyen fills up the bar after getting a liquor shipment at the new Buba Kitchen, that will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord. Nguyen plans on opening the restaurant early next month.

Trumin Nguyen fills up the bar after getting a liquor shipment at the new Buba Kitchen, that will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord. Nguyen plans on opening the restaurant early next month. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The Buba Kitchen will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord.

The Buba Kitchen will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Trumin Nguyen at the new Buba Kitchen, that will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord.

Trumin Nguyen at the new Buba Kitchen, that will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Trumin Nguyen fills up the bar after getting a liquor shipment at the new Buba Kitchen, that will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord. Nguyen plans on opening the restaurant early next month.

Trumin Nguyen fills up the bar after getting a liquor shipment at the new Buba Kitchen, that will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord. Nguyen plans on opening the restaurant early next month. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Trumin Nguyen fills up the bar after getting a liquor shipment at the new Buba Kitchen, that will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord. Nguyen plans on opening the restaurant early next month.

Trumin Nguyen fills up the bar after getting a liquor shipment at the new Buba Kitchen, that will be replacing the old Whiskey and Wine location at 148 North Main Street in downtown Concord. Nguyen plans on opening the restaurant early next month. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By RAY DUCKER

Monitor staff

Published: 11-17-2023 2:15 PM

Modified: 11-28-2023 10:06 AM


Once upon a time, at age 18, Trumin Nguyen came to the States from his native Vietnam and studied engineering in college, first in Washington State and then in Maine.

Now 35 and after working for four years in his once-chosen profession, his career has taken an entirely different path, one that has seen him open a Vietnamese-inspired restaurant in Manchester five years ago called Buba Noodle Bar, and, perhaps as early as the first week in December, another similar establishment in downtown Concord named Buba Kitchen.

Located at 148 North Maine Street, Buba Kitchen is taking over the space previously occupied by Whiskey and Wine in a project that Nguyen began planning two years ago. His networking abilities and the orbit of restaurateurs in his life opened a door to expansion.

“I know the owners of Whiskey and Wine,” Nguyen said. “I knew they closed and I knew that could be an opportunity to take it over and make it my own in Concord.”

Nguyen said he received a lot of community support in Manchester and has felt the same enthusiasm here during the renovation project, which he said has been fairly easy since the space was already so nice.

He mentioned that his altruistic nature helped spread the word about his Queen City business, saying he was conscious of the trouble people were having after COVID swept in.

“We were there for the community during COVID,” Nguyen said. “Of course, we thought we had good food, but we cooked for doctors and nurses and we delivered food. We had healthcare worker programs for three months. The community knew I did that and that is why they liked us.”

Nguyen said noodles again will be central to his new menu. He mentioned serving a more authentic cuisine that will include Asian street tapas and bao buns.

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He also said his food, like ramen and pho, were fairly new to Manchester and that will be the same scenario here in Concord.

Nguyen said the move from engineering to the restaurant business stemmed from two major reasons. One, he wanted to work at something that required a certain amount of creativity, saying, “After my boy was born, I wanted something that was a little more challenging and I liked to talk with people.”

Nguyen patterned himself after two particular family members, including his mother, who taught him about work ethic, and a woman he calls his “auntie,” who has owned a restaurant in Maine with similar cuisine for 20 years.

Nguyen worked there as a youngster, learning some of the requirements needed to keep a business afloat.

“The foundation I learned was from there,” Nguyen said. “I learned and experimented and I’d fail but end with a good product after so many tries.”

Nguyen’s father lives in the United States and he hopes his mother will join the family from Vietnam soon.

Meanwhile, Nguyen says his establishment in Manchester has catered to multiple cultures, and he expects the same to happen here.

He sat by his front window on Tuesday watching people pass and he hopes many of them will turn and walk through his door next month.

“If the product is good, we hope each person can enjoy it and not just Americans,” Nguyen said. “Any person from any background or diversity can enjoy. We see people of all races and all kinds of people. We see Black people, Asians, Mexicans. Food is what brings culture and people together.”