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MIU Café: Dream come true for Central grad, a space where her Vietnamese culture can shine


PRESS PLAY ABOVE: Ribbon-cutting at MIU Cafe and remarks by Erik Lesniak, Ted Kitchens, Cole Riel, Michelle Doan and Jack Toscano.

The spacious MIU Cafe is an elegant place to get your fix of tea, coffee or Vietnamese tapas. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – Michelle Doan was intent on making sure everyone who attended Wednesday’s grand opening of MIU Café got to sample her mother’s authentic Vietnamese dishes.

Located at the Mall of New Hampshire, next to Buffalo Wild Wings, the spacious cafe features Vietnamese tapas or small plates – from crab rangoon and banh mi to pho – as well as a wide assortment of milk teas, superfruit teas, specialty drinks and Vietnamese coffee. Customers can control “sweetness levels” for milk and fruit trees – pick 25, 50, 75 of 100% when you place your order.

“I’ve been dreaming of a space like this my whole life,” said Doan, a 2006 Central High School graduate who thought her conceptual coffee house was going to be located somewhere in Vegas.

“It was supposed to happen there, but then I moved back to New Hampshire to be with family, and here we are,” says Doan, one of eight children whose mother, Ann, is fulfilling her own American dream by running the kitchen for her daughter.

Doan says her parents came to the U.S. for the same reason so many others pack up and leave their homeland behind: they wanted to create opportunities for their children.

Owner Michelle Doan, left, and her mom Ann, who operates the kitchen at MIU Cafe. Courtesy Photo

“They arrived here empty-handed and worked hard,” says Doan who has previously worked in real estate.

The name MIU Café is a play on the way someone from Asia might say “milk tea.” Sort of an onomatopoetic nod to words that morph in translation – try saying “milk tea” fast, without the L or K and you will understand Doan’s concept.

“It’s meant to be an endearing term,” she says, exuding a playfulness that extends to the menu she has created and the decor, which is pink and pastel, with see-through chairs, a round wooden table with a hypnotic spiral and a long table perfect for a breakfast meeting.

She says she aiming to create the kind of space that was missing during her Wonder Years in Manchester, a place where the flavors and culture of her childhood could be celebrated.

“Actually, it’s a space that has been missing in my adulthood, as well,” Doan says, placing a tray of shrimp rolls and crab rangoon out for guests.

Among those attending the grand opening and ribbon cutting was Ted Kitchens, Director of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, who enjoyed some crab rangoon and followed it with a large bowl of chicken pho with rice noodles.

Butterfly Milk – butterfly tea with lavender haze. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Chicken pho. Photo/Carol Robidoux

The rangoon, says Kitchens, was light and crispy, and declared it “airport director certified.” As one who is focused on the importance of building a vibrant city, Kitchens thanked Doan for investing in the city and making a place where visitors can enjoy the best of what Manchester has to offer.

“We bring people up from different parts of the country and to be able to experience the wonderful food I experienced here today is a testimony to you and the love you’re putting into your food and welcoming visitors to our city,” Kitchens said. “I wish you the best of success and you can count on me coming back – and I’ve already got my daughter ready to come; she loves boba.”

My mom is most happy when she’s feeding people,” says MIU Café owner Michelle Doan of her mother, Ann, who manages the kitchen. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Doan hoisted a pair of giant golden scissors and cut the ceremonial ribbon with an assist from Kitchens, Erik Lesniak from the city’s Manchester Economic Development Office, Cole Riel from the Greater Manchester Chamber, and Jack Toscano, General Manager of Simon Properties.

“This is a dream come true,” Doan said, expressing appreciation for the grand opening launch. “Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to celebrate family, culture and friends.”

The MIU Cafe is located at the Mall of New Hampshire, with an outside entrance next to Buffalo Wild Wings. Hours are Mon. – Sat., 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. 


About this Contributor

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!

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