• Food carries memory

    For me, handmade noodle has a special meaning. It reminds me of my father. I seldom saw my father when I was young. He was doing business far away from home. One of my happiest childhood memories was when he came back home, and we made noodles together. In fact, he did all the work while I just sat there accompanying him. It took long time to make noodles from scratch. But for me, the time was short and precious.

    I saw similar scenes when I was a master student and did fieldwork in a Northern village. It was during Chinese New Year when young people came back home from far away workplaces. I saw them sitting in the kitchen and watching parents making noodles, just like I did with my father. They seemed relaxed and happy.  

    The noodle I choose to sell at Kinabolle is from this area. It is said to have 3000 years of history. The noodle is thick, long and broad. Locals call it Biangbiang noodle or belt noodle. “Biang” describes the sound of stretching the noodle on a board. “Belt” describes the shape of the noodle being like a belt. People often put a layer of chili on top of the noodle and pour hot oil on it. It is a delicious dish that every family can afford to make.

    I believe Biangbiang noodle has been an unforgettable memory for many generations. It is not a memory of the food itself, but the memory of the situations where they make and eat the food. It is the memory of who they are together, where they are, and how they feel. I believe for many of them, just like me, handmade noodle brings about nostalgic memory – a memory of home.

    Pang

  • Equality is the core value of Kinabolle

    I didn’t know this when I opened Kinabolle at Vippa. ⁠

    In 2017, I jumped from academia into food business with no experience of food or business. The opening day gave me a lesson. I used a new steamer without trying it out. The dumplings looked terrible. I had to close for the day without selling anything. ⁠

    During the years at Vippa, I had encountered numerous of similar situations. I made decisions every day, be it big or small. What products should I sell? Which supplier should I choose? How to hire an employee? What to do when an employee didn’t show up? How to handle a busy day and adjust to days that have no customers? etc. ⁠

    It took me a while to realize that all my decisions were made based on my personal values. The value of equality was the core. For me equality means that everyone has the chance to access resources while being themselves. I want to create a chance for local middle and working classes to access Chinese food and culture. They can eat Chinese food, see how Chinese make food, and talk to Chinese every day without being in China. I also want to help Chinese immigrants build a safe life in Norway. Even if they are new arrivals, they can get to know Norwegian people and society without feeling they are being excluded. ⁠

    Equality is the reason that I chose to open Kinabolle at a street-food market and at Grønland. It is the reason that I set up low price for hand-made food. Equality is the reason that I go for an open kitchen. It is the reason that me and my employees work, talk, and laugh at the kitchen. ⁠

    Equality is what I stand for. It is what Kinabolle stands for. Equality was shown at Kinabolle at Vippa. It is shown at Kinabolle at Grønland, and it will continue to be shown at other places. ⁠

    Goodbye, Vippa. Thank you for giving me time to build a foundation for Kinabolle. ⁠

    Pang

    October 14, 2021

  • Congratulations, dream chaser! 

    After being looking for a PhD position for almost two years, Zhu finally got it! ⁠

    Zhu was “slightly excited” about the news, as she described. I was not surprised. Zhu is a calm person. Her calmness shows in the way she deals with multiple tasks in the kitchen, the way she arranges her daily life and pursues her career. She clearly knows what essential and non-essential tasks are. She simplifies her daily life. She follows her heart, accepts what life brings, and keeps going on. I know wherever she is, whatever job she takes, she will do well. ⁠

    It is sad for me to say goodbye to Zhu. We have been working together for very long. She called me “boss” in the beginning, and then “Pang sister” and sometimes “Pang”. She told me to slow down when I got stressed. We talked, we laughed, we had arguments and we solved them. I trust her. When she is at Kinabolle, I feel safe.⁠

    But it’s time to say goodbye. This week is Zhu’s last week at Kinabolle. Goodbye, Zhu. We will all miss you.

    Pang

    February 12, 2021

  • New Arrival ⁠

    This is Xiaojing, a new arrival to Norway. ⁠

    You may have seen her at Kinabolle and laughed when she laughed. Xiaojing worked as a real estate agent in Beijing, Athens and Dubai. In 2019 she moved to Norway because her husband found a job here.⁠

    I have met many people who end up in Norway because of family immigration. They have high education and professional experiences. They want to continue their career, or at least, to find a job to be economically independent. But It is difficult. ⁠

    Your Norwegian is not good enough. This is one main reason that they are rejected by workplaces. Yes, they cannot speak fluent Norwegian yet, but they are learning Norwegian, at home and in schools. They are, however, not given chances to learn at workplaces. ⁠

    Xiaojing’s Norwegian is not very good yet, but her communication skills are very good. She knows how to talk to others, no matter which language they use. She has all the skills that Kinabolle needs and she does her job well. I believe she and others like her are qualified to work in many other workplaces too. ⁠

    Pang

    March 17, 2021

  • Good luck, dream chaser!⁠

    This is Zhu, a molecular biologist. Zhu wants to be a researcher. To reach this goal she needs to apply for PhD positions. She has been turned down a few times, but never gives up. ⁠

    In addition to looking for jobs, Zhu’s daily life includes working at Kinabolle and taking online courses. These activities keep her busy, focused and positive. ⁠

    There has been many students like Zhu who worked at Kinabolle while chasing their dream jobs. Due to their inflexible time I have to spend extra time in making work shifts. I need always to be prepared that they will leave at any time. But I’m happy that I am able to give them a steady income so that they can be better focused on their study. I am also happy for them when they leave Kinabolle because they find ideal jobs. I wish Kinabolle acts as a temporary but steady haven to help immigrant students reach their goal. ⁠

    Zhu just had a job interview. Let’s wish her good luck. ⁠

    Pang ⁠

    November 26, 2020

  • Thank you for your support

    A lot of people support us in different ways after reading my last post. Your kindness means a lot to Kinabolle and everyone who works at Kinabolle. We really appreciate it. ⁠

    This is Lillian. You may have seen her at Vippa, but now you will meet her sometimes at Grønland. She is a master student at BI Norwegian Business School. The pandemic has totally changed her daily life. Most of her courses have moved online. There are almost no physical social contact among classmates and friends. She spent most of her time at her 7 square meters dormitory alone. ⁠

    For Lillian, to go out to work is not just to keep supporting herself financially, but also for mental health. It makes her feel socially connected and wanted. It is a way to conquer loneliness and depression. ⁠

    Lillian wishes to work three days a week. I will try my best to meet her wish for as long as I can. ⁠

    — Pang

    November 18, 2020

  • Now we need your help more than ever⁠⁠

    The second lockdown is hitting us harder than we expected. Since Monday our turnover at Grønland has dropped dramatically. Our place at Vippa has closed. A rational choice an owner can make is to cut down cost by sending employees home. But I don’t want to do so. ⁠

    Most of my employees are immigrant students who don’t have rights for laid-off welfare. Some of them have already lost other part-time jobs. If I send them home, they will have economic problems. I have hired them. And now I want to make them feel safe. ⁠

    Instead of reducing cost, I’m in fact adding cost by keeping all my employees at work. We have sufficient capacity in the restaurant but we do not have enough customers. I don’t know how long I can keep everyone because I don’t know how long the situation may last.⁠

    It is difficult for me to ask for your help. But this time I have no choice.⁠

    Please help us by continuing buying our food, leaving google reviews, tagging us on instagram, and tell your friends about us.⁠

    Please help us and small businesses like us, who are still open and strive to survive through difficult times. ⁠

    Please help us so that we can help those who need a job. ⁠

    Thank you. ⁠

    Pang ⁠

    November 12, 2020

  • Why are our dumplings handmade?⁠

    Before Kinabolle was opened, I imported a dumpling machine which can automatically make 6000 dumplings per hour. Because of transportation delay, I decided to make dumplings ourselves while waiting for the machine to be ready. This testing period changed my understanding of food, culture and business. ⁠

    Handmade dumplings are more fresh and chewy that machine-made ones. But more importantly, they have the warmth that the latter cannot deliver. This warmth is not temperature, but attitude. It is the care and love that one put in food. Warmth has then become my criteria for food that I want to serve to customers. ⁠

    I also realised how happy I was to work with students whom I hired for making dumplings. I had similar background as them and I experienced similar uncertainty when I just moved to Norway. To help students feel safe and stable in a foreign country makes me happy. ⁠

    The scene of students making dumplings together reminded me of occasions when my family made dumplings. We gathered in the kitchen, my father chopped meat and vegetables, me and my sisters wrapped dumplings, and my mother boiled them. We talked and we laughed. This is the core of dumplings. It is the feeling of togetherness. It is the culture and value of Chinese food that I want to transmit. ⁠

    I spent a lot of money on a machine that I don’t use. But I never regret it because I found the meaning in building Kinabolle. ⁠

    Pang ⁠

    May 19, 2020

  • How is your business doing?

    How is your business doing? This is the question I received most frequently last month. ⁠

    Since its opening in 2017, Kinabolle has had a profit every year. But this year, the only goal is to survive. In China, lots of restaurants have already closed for good. A similar situation might occur in Norway too. I hope Kinabolle can survive. ⁠

    To remain open through the crisis is the right decision. We go to work as usual. We stick to daily routines. We don’t change moods. More people notice us and they become repeat customers. Although there’s no economic reward due to high cost, by staying open we show we are stable. ⁠

    Stability is what we fight for. We want our customers to know, no matter what happens, we will be there. We prove it this time. ⁠

    Thank you for your concern! Our business is in difficulty, but I believe, we will manage it. ⁠

    This is my answer. ⁠

    Pang

    April 23, 2020

  • The beginning

    15 years ago, I was working in a city in Eastern China. Almost every day after work, I went to a small neighbourhood restaurant and ordered the same dish for dinner. When family and friends came to visit, I brought them there and we shared different dishes. This restaurant was my kitchen. It made me feel at home.⁠

    Back then I didn’t know that one day I would build a similar one in Norway, a country far away. Kinabolle is connected to my past, my journey, and the loneliness and happiness I have experienced. I hope it will become part of your story, a story you can share with others and you can remember later in life. ⁠

    Pang ⁠

    April 9, 2020

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