While the COVID-19 shutdown has caused inconveniences to our daily lives, it had given us a chance to return to our hobbies; And cooking was one of the most popular quarantine trends.
Many are taking their time to learn new recipes and experiment with new flavors. Yet, learning to cook unfamiliar ethnic cuisine is no piece of cake. Ingredients of Asian dishes can be hard to find, as many of them uses a variety of seasonings, spices, and sauces. With Omsom, a new Asian food brand that had just launched in the middle of May, anyone can make real-deal Asian cuisine.
Omsom, named after a Vietnamese word that means rowdy and rambunctious, craft starters that consist of all the aromatic ingredients in one pouch, allowing the consumers to create all kinds of Asian cuisines quickly and easily in any home kitchen. A simple action of tear and pour is all the home cookers have to do to turn their familiar ingredients into tasteful Asian dishes.
“We worked with different iconic chefs to craft these starters because we really want to honor and celebrate the communities and cuisines that we represent,” said Vanessa Pham, the co-founder of Omsom.
Both Pham and her sister were doing something completely different; Pham’s sister Kim was working at a seed-stage venture capital fund in London while Pham was advising Fortune 500 CPG on retail and growth strategies. When the Pham sisters got together, they realized that they want to start a company together. “We wanted to do it first and foremost for a mission that we care about because starting a company is difficult,” Pham said. “Many businesses fail, so if we’re going to take that risk, we really need to understand that it’s important enough for us to do it when we care deeply about that.”
Asian food quickly came to mind when the Pham sisters were brainstorming ideas for their business. The two agreed that food was a significant component of their lives, especially as they’re both first-generation Vietnamese Americans. Not only is food how they engage with their identity and how they share their culture with other people, but it’s also a love language for their parents to them.
Beyond that, with Asian American culture coming into light in recent years, the Pham sisters want to create a brand that is meant to reclaim the way these cuisines are represented. “Consumers are now eating all these specific regional dishes,” Pham said, but they aren’t pleased with what’s available in the grocery stores as the brands don’t reflect what these cultures embrace.
The brand had been in the making long before the outbreak of the coronavirus. With the manufacturing and supply chain aspects being affected, Omsom had to push back the launch in order to accommodate some of the things that weren’t possible on the same timeline. On top of solving the back-end problems, Pham is trying to communicate Omsom’s idea to the consumers. “Our hope is really that this product helps people in a time where they’re at home a lot and want to feel connected,” Pham said, “We hope our product brings joy and a feeling of human connection and discovery.”
Despite the difficulties the pandemic has brought to them, the Pham sisters launched Omsom amid the pandemic and sold out its first batch of starters within 72 hours. “The response was far more than we could have ever asked for,” said Pham. “It’s been amazing to see that people can really understand what we’re doing, what we’re about, and how intentional we are about; not only our products but also the community that we speak to and the conversations that we’re starting as a company.”
Omsom launched its products with three cuisines under the Southeast Asian line — Vietnamese, Thai, and Filipino. Each starter represents a signature dish of that specific cuisine, which includes lemongrass barbecue (Vietnamese), Thai larb, and Filipino Sisig.
Omsom’s ambition is to change the way American eats as well as the way Asian cuisines are represented today in grocery stores. While there are endless possibilities to achieve their ultimate goal, the team is focusing on the starters. As something to look forward to, Omsom is currently working on an East Asian line in which includes Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine.