Meet Khai | Portraits of merchants & professionals of Côte-des-Neiges
As part of the Portraits of merchants & professionals of Côte-des-Neiges project, we invited Zeineb Khalfallah (@zeineb_conscience on Instagram) to join us in our visit of 11 businesses of the SDC Côte-des-Neiges who have participated in the project. In addition to the exhibition on Promenade Jean-Brillant of the pictures taken by Drowster and Gaëlle Leroyer, Zeineb shares with us the moments she took with the owners and managers. Learn more about your merchants and professionals of the Côte-des-Neiges district! // Find out more on Zeineb talks and meet Khai, the owner of the restaurant Pokai.
Distinguished by a refined style, different textures ranging from wood to metal and relaxing colors, Poka’i restaurant has impressed the different SDC Côte-des-neiges’ talents. What made this visit interesting was especially the meeting we had with the place owner, Khai Nguyen. Originally from Vietnam, Khai moved to Canada in 1980. Since his arrival, the entrepreneur has had a variety of professional experiences and eventually opened Poka’i, a Vietnamese restaurant offering healthy dishes made from simple ingredients.
Over a Vietnamese coffee with an enveloping flavour, the entrepreneur did us the honor of talking about his journey, a journey that will undoubtedly inspire many business people from different origins.
With several skills in both business and interior design, Khai has juggled many responsibilities from international trade to catering. “I have been a trader for many years. I worked as a cognac importer a long time ago. I also opened a restaurant almost ten years ago. That’s how I got to know the restaurant business. I also worked in design…it’s my hobby! I came back to the restoration sector two years ago. That’s how I opened Poka’i.” Explained Khai with a lot of modesty and a soft smile discreetly letting her pride show.
Khai launched Pokai, the favorite destination for Vietnamese food lovers, two years ago. In the midst of a pandemic, the restaurant has still managed to create a place for itself and attract all kinds of customers: busy workers looking for healthy and simple dishes, those curious about multicultural cuisine, students looking for healthy and balanced plates, etc. “I offer different meals to welcome people from here. That’s what motivates me every day.” Told us Khai during his interview.
“I know the area very well. This is a very crowded area by students and professionals. That’s what attracted me at first. Also, what I really like here is the kindness of the citizens. The shopkeepers are also very open. We often work together. We are a big family” said Khai to describe his experience at Côte-des-Neiges.
“Each cook, each chef, each shopkeeper is unique! What distinguishes one restaurant from another is the philosophy and values of its founder.” Finished Khai to share his vision of the business world.
Writer-journalist-reviser: Zeineb Khalfallah | Photo credit: Gaëlle Leroyer
Complete the experience by visiting the free exhibition on Promenade Jean-Brillant from September 15 to December 5, 2021. Info: here
ABOUT THE PROJECT: Portraits of merchants and professionals of Côte-des-Neiges is a project aimed at connecting citizens with businesses in the territory of the Société de développement commercial (SDC) Côte-des-Neiges. Through a series of portraits taken at 11 businesses and businesses, we discover 16 owners and managers of businesses in the area. This social and cultural project is intended to be a real encounter with the people behind the professional. Through this very first edition, you will discover women and men, young professionals and experienced entrepreneurs, from different cultures, from different backgrounds, offering a varied commercial offer and all having in common their love for Côte-des-Neiges. Discover the exhibition section here on the Promenade Jean-Brillant and continue the experience online thanks to the touching interviews carried out with each of them and available on the SDC Côte-des-Neiges blog and via QR codes on each panel. This project is an initiative and is under the artistic direction of the SDC Côte-des-Neiges. The exhibition component was produced in collaboration with the Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges and the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.