Hmong Cafe closes
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Scene Writer
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Hmong Cafe, 11197 E. 31st St., closed recently, ending an almost five-year run in east Tulsa.
"We weren't able to renew our lease," said Joey Yang, who opened the restaurant in September 2007 with his parents, Kia and Doua C. Yang.
This was Tulsa's first, and so far only, introduction to Hmong (pronounced mun or mung) cuisine, a fusion of food from Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China.
Joey Yang said future plans are undecided.
"I think my parents probably are ready to retire, but if the right situation came along, who knows?" Yang said.
The Yangs' story is one of those heart-wrenching tales of survival under difficult circumstances.
Doua was one of thousands of Hmong -- an ancient ethnic group with its own culture and language that lives primarily in the mountainous regions of southern China and the Laos highlands -- recruited by the CIA during the Vietnam War era.
Following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, those Hmong men became targets of persecution from those countries under communist rule.
Doua, then 22, carried his baby boy, Joey, in one arm and an M-16 rifle in the other as he and Kia, then 20, made their monthlong escape through the jungle along the Mekong River, from Laos to Thailand, without being captured.
By the time they reached the U.S. in 1980, they also had a daughter, Bao.
"The restaurant was good for our family," Joey Yang said. "We made a lot of new friends."
The Duck Lahb at the Hmong Cafe. Tulsa World File