Steve Chu and Ephrem, owners of Baltimore-based restaurant Ekiben, drove down to Vermont to surprise their customer with broccoli tempura.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 17, 2021. It has since been updated.
Steve Chu and Ephrem are the owners of Ekiben, a restaurant based in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2021, they, along with their employee Joe, learned that a customer with stage 4 cancer was craving some of their renowned broccoli tempura. There was only one problem: the customer lived about 500 miles away. Therefore, she asked Chu for the recipe. However, instead of just handing the recipe to her, the restaurant owner decided to drive six hours to her home so he could personally make the broccoli tempura for her. Chu's little act of kindness has gained widespread popularity, Good News Movement reports.
His story first gained attention after the customer's child-in-law posted about their experience on Canton Neighbors, a Facebook group dedicated to residents of Baltimore, Maryland. "My mother-in-law lives in Vermont and would visit my wife and her sister throughout the years," they explained. "Whenever she was in town, Ekiben's tempura broccoli was something that she always needed to have. She always joked that when she's on her death bed that if there's anything in the world, she wants tempura broccoli from Ekiben." The story took a turn for worse when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in December 2020. She has thus been undergoing treatment, although it has "greatly reduced the quality of her life." If there was anything that could cheer her up, it was Ekiben's broccoli tempura.
The child-in-law planned to make the trip from Maryland to Vermont. They stated, "We're making a trip up this weekend to potentially say our goodbyes and enjoy some time with her. The drive to Vermont is six hours and tempura broccoli obviously will not taste the same after the long ride." In light of this, they reached out to the owners of Ekiben to check if there was a way to get the recipe or some of the ingredients to cook it for her. The response they received was, in their own words, "overwhelming."
"Thanks for reaching out," Chu reportedly responded. "Ephrem and I are more than willing to meet you guys in Vermont, and make the food fresh so it will be just like what she remembered." The duo, as well as their employee Joe, therefore made the drive out to the state in order to surprise the customer and make her day. The child-in-law affirmed, "I'm still in disbelief that they would go to such lengths. There's still hope for humanity. If you haven't tried Ekiben, do so. This gesture alone speaks volumes."
When Good News Movement discovered Chu's act of kindness, they featured him on their Instagram profile, where he has since received several dozen messages of praise. One Instagram user wrote, "If Baltimore doesn't pay this forward to the restaurant I'd be surprised. It's a city of amazing people. But the owner and employees are the finest examples." The customer sang Ekiben and its owner's praise: "The overwhelming generosity and gigantic hearts of these young men will make me warm and happy forever."