One Star House Party is a bold new project from some intrepid chefs with absolutely no airs or wankery.
6 friends, 20 countries, 20 months, 20 pop-up restaurants.
Sounds insane? Yeah, I think so too.
Their plan is to travel the country for a month, learning about the ingredients and indigenous ways of cooking. This culminates in a pop-up restaurant that lasts a week before they move on to the next country.
The friends started out in Hong Kong and had so much fun that they decided to take it on the road. The idea caught the imagination and even led to a New York Times writeup.
When I spoke to Kevin, one of the intrepid six, as I shall refer to them from now on, they’d already gotten themselves into some crazy situations.
For their Vietnamese endeavour, they had planned on riding the length of the country on motorbikes, Top Gear style. During that month, Trish, one of the team, broke her leg after being thrown off the bike. She had to be carried around for most of the way,but stayed on the trip and was seen playing a very fine hostess on the evening.
The team bought kevlar pads after that, but another accident sent Kevin skidding on all fours on his pads, while his bike went in the other direction.
YEEEEIKES. And here I am, four months into my move to Vietnam, still refusing to learn how to ride a bike, while these guys having ridden the length of Vietnam!
I dropped into their Vietnam pop-up purposely not been following their progress on social media as I wanted to surprised.
I knew the basics: they are chefs, they usually live where they host to save costs, they’re bootstrapping each new location with the earnings from the previous dinner.
Because I hadn’t done my research, I wasn’t prepared for the 45min taxi ride through narrow hems (Vietnamese alleyways) that led to a beautiful furniture showroom where they were holding their pop-up. It turns out one of the crew knows the owner of the showroom – and so there, amongst the fabric and leather swatches, fancy furniture and designer light fittings, was where we had our dinner.
Greeted by the intrepid six, their translator and their rotating intern for the night, what followed were seven courses, mostly served in pairs.
What impressed me most about One Star House Party wasn’t their amazing food, but their sense of adventure, passion, and resilience. The team’s genuine curiosity about the world around them and willingness to engage were really inspiring.
At one point during the trip, they somehow convinced a barbecued pork seller to allow them to help out at her stall. For their pop-ups each evening, they called in a local hawker to make rice pancakes for their customers. They also constantly post fun facts about food, which really endears them to me.
They have also embarked on a plan of getting interns to work with them at each location, in the hopes of a cultural and gastronomical exchange.
I have no doubt this is something they’ll continue to do, as they cook and discover across the globe.
If you want to see more of what they’ve been up to, including but not limited to: night fishing on a squid boat, hosting a pop-up in the corridors of a moving train, and scoffing Sichuan peppers, I recommend that you follow their social media and YouTube channels. I swear they didn’t pay me to say any of this, I just want to watch them kick ass.
I can’t wait until they hit the Mount Everest base camp. Will there be momos?