The love for food and the passion for serving people developed from an early age in Sonny Nguyen. At his parent’s restaurant in Winter Haven, Florida played the role of a breeding ground for his commitment and dedication for cooking. For the past twelve years, Sonny has worked at different restaurants, learning the key skills and gaining the right experience that goes into owning and operating one’s own restaurant. “It was just my time to open up my own place”, says Sean, showing us around Domu.
The greatest influence in his life that helped nurture the cooking talent in him was his older brother. “We’d go to the store and buy stakes for us to bring home and then have competitions with each other to see who makes the better stake.” He says his family spotted a spark in him from an early age and ever since they knew he was going to be a chef. Aged 5, he wrote a letter to himself that stated his plans about growing up and opening up his own noodle shop. The letter is safe till date with his father and he is very fortunate to be able to make his dreams come true. “Everything’s going great” says Sonny, beaming with gratitude.
He loves making all sorts of noodle dishes at Domu and he’s working day and night to perfect his skill and artistry when it comes to making noodles. His personal favorite is Ramen but he says he enjoys all dishes equally. He believes that there is a need for the younger generations to learn and take forward the legacy of their ancestors. The art of noodle making is dying even back in Japan and Sean feels responsible for keeping traditions alive.
Making noodles is a hobby that Sonny thoroughly enjoys and his specialty lies in making pork infused noodle dishes which are also his best sellers at the restaurant. His goal is to make Domu the premier Japanese restaurant in the City and he explains the concept behind the name of the restaurant by saying, “Originally Domu means Dome in Japanese so I took that as slang for coming off the dome for all my recipes all the way down to the design, the menu, the bar; I wanted everything to be curated.”
“Nowadays, Domu is just another slang for ‘Dream come true’ so it fits a little bit better about what my path is, what my journey is and I feel like it’s a testimony of my five-year-old self” For Sonny, the essence of being a chef is about building people up. He believes that people are more valuable than the whole place itself. He makes sure the individuals that work for him learn the precious skills of being in the business and take them with them wherever they go. He focuses on each individual and makes sure they feel welcomed and attain self-enrichment.
“We started with only two (types of) Ramen on our menu; now we have sixteen” he suggests coming into the restaurant and first enjoying the bar and the casual atmosphere that surrounds it before moving onto the dining hall for the main courses.