All Saints raises funds for 120th anniversary

Owner Son Bui (l.) and a waiter in Mekong East on Bell Boulevard. Photo courtesy Stella Elder
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Stella Elder said she and her husband eat at Bell Boulevard’s Mekong East Restaurant about twice a week.

One might presume Drew Elder acquired a taste for authentic Vietnamese cuisine during his tour of duty in that country. But, paradoxically, Stella said he had not once sampled the cuisine, which includes dishes such as Canh chua, Goi Ga and Bò kho, until years after he returned from the Vietnam War in 1968.

“When he came back, he befriended a Vietnamese woman who had escaped the country with her family,” she said.

“It’s unbelievable. She came with her two young sons and her husband, who is a professor,” Elder said.

Hai Bui and her family had been told to listen to their radios for Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” which would be their cue to pack one suitcase and head for an evacuation point.

Drew worked with Bui at Chase Manhattan Bank after she arrived in the United States in 1975.

“They became friends and she introduced him to Vietnamese food. It was constantly on his mind to find food as good as hers,” said Stella Elder, a member of Bayside’s All Saints Episcopal Church, at 214-35 40th Ave., which will celebrate its 120th anniversary next year.

The Elders have been dedicated customers of Mekong East ever since brothers Son and Frank Bui, who hail from the coastal Vietnamese city of Nha Trang and coincidentally have the same last name as Hai, opened the restaurant earlier this year.

“It’s a great restaurant. The food is so delicious; everything is so good,” said Stella Elder, who thought the restaurant would make a great setting for a church fund-raiser.

She said the dinner held Oct. 12 raised more than $100 for the church.

“We raised about $115. It’s not a whole lot of money, but it’s $115 more than we had the day before,” she said.

Tom Ramsey, All Saints’ senior warden, said the funds will go toward replacing the roof on the church’s parish house, landscaping and painting and repairing other buildings.

“It’s a win-win,” he said of the partnership with Mekong East and other area restaurants.

The church’s next fund-raiser meal is scheduled for Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Il Vesuvio Restaurant, at 39-24 Bell Blvd.

For more information, contact Stella Elder at 718-229-5631.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 12:00 am, October 22, 2011
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