Refugees from Vietnam infuse culture into American food dishes at local restaurant Fuzion On

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 21:49:22-04

Ken Chung and Rhonda Chung, along with their mom and brother Will, came to America in 1989 after a year and a half long journey from Vietnam.

The siblings fled form Vietnam with their mother at the beginning of 1988. The parents had tried 10 times previously.

They were on the ocean for seven days when the boat ran out of gas. They were then picked up by people on a fisherman boat, who demanded they give them everything they had.

The 75 people on board the boat were taken to Malaysia, where the UN was alerted. They were then sent to a refugee camp where they lived from May 1988 to April 1989.

“It was a very meager existence. The food was rationed and we made everything stretch," Ken said. Rhonda was a young teenager at the time, taking care of her younger brother Ken.

The family would get a whole chicken for the week for a family of four.

After almost a year in Malaysia, the four were moved to the Philippines for six months as part of a transitional camp.

“We got accepted by U.S. delegation via my dad because he was in service in Vietnam. So we were classified as political asylum," Rhonda said. “We were one of the few lucky who got accepted.”

Finally, they made it to the U.S. in September 1989, where they grew up in the San Gabriel Valley.

Eventually, Ken, Rhonda, and Will's fourth sibling and father made it to the U.S. They moved to Bakersfield, California to start a business.

“Bakersfield was just a business opportunity that brought us here," Ken said.

The siblings started Fuzion On, a restaurant with a fusion of Asian and American food items such as a burgers and Vietnamese sandwiches with a twist, and wings in different sauces.

All of the workers at Fuzion On also have a special story. According to Rhonda, she hopes that she helped give her workers a second chance.

“We were refugees and someone was looking out for us," Rhonda said. “Someone in the community has to give something back to help the people for the organizations who helped us.”

RELATED: At The Table: Fuzion On

The restaurant is located at 818 Real Road, Suite A, Bakersfield, CA 93309, behind Days Inn.