Paul Hopper, the son of caterers, quit his analyst job to journey into Saigon; a spontaneous venture that revealed the aromatic flavours and healthy meals of Vietnamese cuisine. Through this, he wanted to provide a quick service, fresh food, and a nourishing Vietnamese eatery. Paul’s authentic food has gone on to become one of the fan favourites on Feedr.
Read our short Q&A with Paul to learn more about their serendipitous origin story and delicious food.
Meet HOP Vietnamese
Q: What’s the inspiration behind your business?
A: I used to work in the City as a banker for 6 years and got so frustrated by the queues at the only Asian takeaway nearby. My colleagues and I needed food fast – we didn’t get long for lunch and I didn’t want to be eating the same sandwich every day. It all fell into place in my mind when I left office life behind and went travelling. A typhoon resulted in an unplanned pitstop in Vietnam. I fell in love with the cuisine, the people, and the history. I realised then and there that a quick service Vietnamese offer would be really popular amongst my ex-colleagues and peers. All the healthy phos and delicious curries – it’s what I would have loved to have had for lunch.
Q: Where are you from and how has that shaped your business?
A: I’m from Hartlepool and am the son of caterers so grew up working in kitchens. I didn’t realise it at the time, but my parents’ catering company influenced me from a young age.
I went to uni in Leicester then moved to London upon graduating to start my 6 year stint in the city.
Q: How would you describe your food in 5 words?
A: Fast, varied, delicious, colourful and nourishing!
Q: What’s your favourite meal on your menu?
A: How can I pick?!
If I had to choose, I’d say the Lemongrass Chicken HOP Box. The HOP Box is our hero dish – in fact, the name HOP derives from ‘cái hộp’ meaning ‘box’ in Vietnamese. I wanted to create something that was compact and easy to take back and eat at your desk whilst working. They’re a complete meal with protein, steamed fragrant rice, shredded salad, pickled and green veg. The Lemongrass Chicken HOP Box in particular has chicken thigh in a lemongrass, garlic and chilli sauce and is served with jasmine rice, crunchy Viet salad, crispy shallots, coriander and sliced chillies.
Q: What should we order from you when…
…. we feel Indulgent?
A: Our meatball banh mi. It’s a light crusty baguette jam-packed with Viet spiced beef meatballs, Sriracha mayo, Viet herbs, spring onion, shredded salad, pickled carrot, daikon & cucumber, our signature secret sauce and – most indulgently – our chicken liver parfait. It’s delicious.
…. we crave something healthy?
A: Our pho! Our customers can customise any dish when they order so we can really tailor it to diet preferences. For example, if they order the mushroom pho with courgetti noodles instead of flat rice noodles, it’s a low calorie dish – fewer than 100 in fact.
… we want to celebrate?
A: I’d say if you’ve got something worth celebrating then you should definitely get a side in addition to your main. Our signature wings are marinated with Sriracha, soy and sesame and a perfect treat.
Q: What is your top tip for eating better when at work?
A: Eat breakfast before you leave the house or have some porridge oats in your desk drawer to avoid snacking on a chocolate croissant mid-morning. Prep in advance so you have a mix of home-cooked lunches as well as some days reserved for buying lunch out at HOP, naturally.
Q: What’s the ingredient you always find yourself reaching for when you’re cooking at home?
A: Am I a cliche if I say Sriracha? Otherwise, I really like white miso paste to make dressings and sauces.
Q: What’s your favourite thing to do in your area?
A: I’ve just moved so I’m enjoying exploring the new area, getting to know the new local and eating at the excellent restaurants around east London.
Q: When you’re not in the kitchen…
A: I work a lot so when I have time off I like to chill out with my fiance and see my friends. Like everyone, there’s a lot of lost time to make up for when it comes to socialising so I’m trying to catch up with everyone.
Q: What are your post Covid-19 resolutions?
A: Don’t bank on anything! Plans change, remain agile and always have a plan B.
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