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Upon first glance, SunDial, a new “Vietnamese street food” food truck in Bozeman, didn’t look too bad. However, the deeper I looked, the more my heart hurt.

It’d be one thing if SunDial was run by a Vietnamese chef or a local who trained under a Vietnamese chef and came from a place of true appreciation and understanding of Vietnamese culture, but it is neither of these things. I found no evidence of any Vietnamese experience amongst the head chef’s many accolades, only that she was hired when SunDial was just a concept and “immediately saw the opportunity to move back West.”

This begs the question: Why didn’t they simply hire a Vietnamese chef?

From concept to execution, SunDial reads incredibly tone-deaf when anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150% in 2020 alone. They claim to be partnering with a local Vietnamese business and have “great collaborations in the works with Vietnamese individuals and culinary talent” yet share nothing more. Currently, their only contribution to the Asian community is tagging a few Vietnamese brands in their Instagram posts.

I’m not here to gatekeep Vietnamese food. I love my culture’s food and want others to love it too. But I cannot sit idly by while it’s blatantly exploited. SunDial says they “have a deep love and respect for Vietnamese culture and cuisine and are excited to share it with the greater Bozeman community.” I don’t see this in their actions, nor do I appreciate the orientalism. We may be only a small community here, but we exist and are willing to share our culture all on our own.

Until SunDial actually supports the Asian community they profit from, I will not be eating there. I recommend visiting Vietnamese-owned Bone Broth Noodles in Belgrade for all your Vietnamese cravings.

Emma Nguyen

Livingston

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