Uzbek immigrant strives hard and brings his hometown deliciousness to Taiwan

Uzbek immigrant strives brings his hometown deliciousness to Taiwan. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by Bek) 
Uzbek immigrant strives brings his hometown deliciousness to Taiwan. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by Bek) 
Taiwan Immigrants' Global News Network】Translated by CHI CHIA I

Sitting at Kaohsiung E-DA World, having an exotic signboard, and the scent of Middle Eastern cuisine wafted from the stall. This is the “Bek's Uzbek Cuisine” set up by an Uzbek immigrant, Bek, who has been residing in Taiwan for more than 10 years. It offers scrumptious kebab, pilaf, and pita bread that have won many hearts of the Taiwanese.

Bek’s real name is Adil, and he came to Taiwan to pursue an education in 2009 since he had a strong passion for the Chinese language. Besides, he developed a new path in life while studying language courses in the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU). A teacher encouraged Bek to obtain culinary skills, and this is therefore he became who he is now.

Not only being a stall proprietor, but he is also living a fulfilling life as the chef of the “Shangri-La's Far Eastern, Tainan” and “E-Da Royal Hotel”, school lecturer, culinary instructor, and the first Uzbek cuisine & ingredients consultant in Taiwan.

Bek serves as the school lecturer and culinary instructor. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by Bek)  

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Kung Fu movies led to his passion for Chinese & fresh new life in Taiwan

“Although I could not read Chinese back then, I just kept attempting to write the words.” Speaking of his passion for the Chinese language, he mentioned that he was fascinated to Kung Fu films when he was a kid. Both “Bruce Lee” and “Ip Man” are his important childhood memories. 

In addition, he got to know Taiwan because his brother lived in Taiwan. While traveling in Taiwan, he had thoughts that “I felt that the environment here was good, and then I could learn Chinese as well, so I stayed.”

However, Bek faced a language barrier when he first arrived in Taiwan because the second language of Uzbek is Russian instead of English. “Of course, I was nervous at first, but I made new Taiwanese friends soon and they treated me well, so it was not difficult to adapt to new environments.”

Other than language, everything else in Taiwan was fresh new to Bek. As motorcycles were barely seen in Uzbek at that time, so a sea of motorcycles was extraordinary to him. He described that coming to Taiwan, where there was state-of-the-art technology, is just like having real-life time travel as the environment, traffic, people, and things were all very different.

Developed a new path in life with teacher’s encouragement

Bek’s first teacher in Taiwan was his brother’s wife – Anita Lin. “She is the most important teacher and like a mother to me in Taiwan,” Bek said. “She made me learn Zhuyin withing a day, and she often helped me check homework.” Bek also showed his gratitude toward three teachers he met in NTNU as they would spend extra time to teach him and answered his questions patiently.

“I managed to finish a textbook in less than a semester and had better learning outcome than my classmates,” Bek said confidently. After graduating from the language school, he entered I-SHOU University to learn culinary skills. From being a boy who loves to cook all kinds of meals, he has become a professional chef who can cook a table of mouth-watering dishes.  

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Entrepreneurship & Perseverance

“I remember the first day of starting the business was on Christmas, the weather was nice and therefore the business went well,” Bek said. “I was really happy on that day.”

Bek set up a stall in the E-DA World. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by Bek)  

The stall in E-DA World has allowed Bek to quickly recoup the initial costs of starting up a business. However, he faced challenges as well. Another stall in Kaohsiung was closed due to pandemic outbreak, and one restaurant in Taipei was also closed due to high rents. On the journey of entrepreneurship, he learned many valuable lessons from his failures to better understand the entrepreneurial model he wanted.

Bek is selling Uzbek delicacies at prices below NT$ 100. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by Bek)  

Now, he is selling Uzbek delicacies at prices below NT$ 100, including freshly grilled kebab, pilaf, and pita bread that is rich in cheese and chicken or beef. The portions of the food are very generous in Bek’s stall.

One of the sacrifices of starting a business is freedom as it is hard to squeeze in a trip. Although it is exhausting sometimes, Bek still enjoy doing his job. During the COVID-19 outbreak, he started selling frozen ready-to-eat meals, hoping to deliver Uzbek gourmet food to customers’ homes and help his business survive through difficult times.

The most beautiful thing about Taiwan is people’s kindness

Reminiscing about his life in Taiwan, Bek said, “I have met so many people here who have been so helpful to me.” Two Taiwanese have left strong impression on him, one is an aunt Bek met while working in the school restaurant, and another is his brother’s colleague.

There is an aunt who took care of Bek a lot. “She always brings fruit for me when I was working in school restaurant,” he said. “Even now, she still sends lychee to me or even passes it to me personally.” These have made Bek felt very touched.

Another Taiwanese has helped Bek to subsidize school fees. “At that time, I couldn't pay the school fee of NT$60,000, and he simply wrote a check for NT$70,000.” Although the benefactor said there was no need to repay the money, Bek still returned it to the Taiwanese after started working.

These are the good deeds that Bek will remember for a lifetime. The kind-hearted Taiwanese also made him fall in love with this land deeply. Currently, he is also working hard to apply for permanent residence of Taiwan. “There are many nice Taiwanese who helped me along the way, and I hope to stay in Taiwan!”

In the future, Bek hopes to buy a bigger house and decorate it with furniture showing Uzbek culture, just like a small cultural-center-cum-restaurant. “If you want to learn about Uzbek culture, eat Uzbek food, or you want to travel to Uzbek, I welcome you to come to my house in the future.”

Bek hopes that when everyone tasted dishes, they will be able to know more about Uzbek, and will also add more Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines into the menu in the future.

In the future, Bek hopes to buy a bigger house and invites everyone to enjoy gourmet food. (Photo / Authorized & Provided by Bek)  

When he was asked what he could bring to everyone in the future, he was self-assured and said, “It's not just Uzbek food, it's Bek's food.”

Readers are welcome to check Bek’s Facebook

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