Vietnamese noodle seller Bui Tuan Lam may have attracted more customers to his shop after parodying Turkish chef Nusret “Salt Bae” Gokce’s flamboyant serving style, but a video of his antics also caught the eye of law and order authorities in Vietnam.
In the clip, Lam can be seen imitating Salt Bae’s swagger, exaggerated knife antics and, of course, the famous sprinkling action (salt in the Turkish chef’s case, spring onions in the Vietnamese man's).
About a week after the video post, Lam – who labelled himself “Green Onion Bae” – has been summoned for investigation by police in Vietnam, but was not given a reason why.
A BBC report suggests Lam may be in trouble for being critical of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam, although the noodle seller has since clarified his post was merely an advertising stunt, which paid off with his customers.
Lam’s subsequent Facebook post briefly shows him talking to two uniformed officials, but it’s unclear if he’s being charged with any wrongdoing. He has since been issued a second summons.
The news comes days after Vietnam’s Public Security Minister General To Lam was criticised for visiting Salt Bae’s pricey London restaurant Nusr-Et, with a video showing the star chef preparing and even feeding members of the delegation a piece of gold-encrusted steak.
The BBC reported that the minister's monthly wage is between $600 and $800 per month, while a steak at Nusr-Et can go for up to $2,000.
The Vietnamese general is not the only politician to have drawn his poverty-stricken countrymen's ire; in 2018, Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro was criticised for dining at a Nusr-Et restaurant in Istanbul.
Salt Bae cuts a rather controversial figure. In September, social media users expressed shock after customers at the West London steakhouse were charged more than £1,800 ($2,300) for their meal, including £44 for four Red Bulls and £630 for a tomahawk steak, while a Florida diner called the police last January after being charged for a gold steak he purportedly did not order.
The chef is also facing a $5 million copyright infringement claim from a US artist who alleges the social media star has used his artwork across the world without permission, but the impending lawsuit has not stopped Salt Bae from expanding his empire, with the latest Nusr-Et outpost opening in Riyadh, earlier this month.