He comes across as a down-to-earth, charismatic individual. A firm handshake and a warm, welcoming smile. A modicum of modesty spoken through a rhythmic lilt. But Aris Cabiles has no need to be humble — his homemade sausages pack a delectable punch that leave the taste-buds wanting more.
Butchery is in his family — both his grandfather and father were in the meat business — and it’s clear to see how this skill has been passed down. He’s been buying the freshest cuts of pork from the same lady in Yen Phu market for 10 months, and everything is made from scratch — even the casings. He refuses to use a sausage maker, stating “it slows me down, so I still do it handmade using a funnel and my hands”.
The garlic sausages he first made are popular in his home city of Baguio. But he didn’t stop at just garlic. “Inspiration comes to me in the market, I see some things and I think, ‘I can put them in the sausages.’” It was Christmas time when he had the idea to put dried fruit in a pork sausage. This has become his most popular flavour.
The story of how he started making bangers came from the Filipino love of sharing among people. “In the Philippines, it’s rude to eat alone — you offer everything. I just wanted to share my food and I guess that’s how ‘Sausage Tuesday’ started.”
Wanting to cook on his day off, but not having a kitchen, he went to a friend’s house to use theirs. He began by sharing the Filipino food he’d cooked with the house. This developed into a regular Tuesday night soiree and when he eventually moved in, he said to himself, “Today, I’m going to make some sausages.” And while the rest may be history, Sausage Tuesday is continuing to grow.
It’s evolved from an intimate gathering of his housemates to a hosting by a local Bia Hoi, where up to 40 people turn up to try his delicious produce. Although he spends up to eight hours in the kitchen to prepare, all he asks is that people bring something to share. He has also started to sell his sausages by the kilo. But it’s not about money. “For me, to see them enjoy the food I make, that’s payoff enough.”
The Bia Hoi was a necessity because of neighbourhood complaints, but he hopes he can move it back to his house where people can sit communally on the floor, eating off banana leaves while enjoying live music.
It was John, the proprietor of The Hanoi Social Club, who approached him about featuring a dish using his sausages. “I was so happy when John said there’s a dish for it at the social club. I thought, whoa, this is amazing because I never really thought about making money from it.”
John actually wanted to host a sausage night, which could have been a win/win situation and an avenue to develop business, but Aris was reluctant to commercialise the event beyond his home-cooked, no nonsense, food-sharing affair at the Bia Hoi.
Another problem is that he doesn’t really know how to price his sausages — he admitted his business acumen fails to match up to his cookery skills and at the moment, he’s just selling them at cost price to his friends.
Whether it will work on a retail basis, time will tell. Aris has given samples to a couple of established restaurants that are known for good food, and he wants the sausages to be featured in a special or creative dish. “I want them to do something good with it, not just fry it or put it on a stick.”
What about starting his own venture? “Yeah, I’m up for [it], I like being the person in the kitchen looking after the food, but the book keeping, the accounting, the finances, let someone else take care of that.”
Aris’s current idea is to open up a sausage stand by converting his motorbike in to a mobile barbecue. “Two kegs of beer, some music and two dishes; maybe bangers and mash or sausage in a bun with a salad, you could drive around anywhere and just set up.”
This concept has obvious hurdles, but in theory, it’s a great idea that would make a marvelous addition to what Hanoi is known for worldwide — its simple and great tasting street food.
The dish at the Hanoi Social Club — garlic and rosemary sausage accompanied by an egg baked inside an avocado — is a feast for the eyes before you’ve even tucked in. It’s now live on the menu and the good news is that the current lonesome star attraction of Aris’s plumb and flavoursome snag is set to be joined by a teammate to pack more of a punch. Says John from Hanoi Social Club, “we’ll be adding one more sausage. One is not enough, and a dipping relish or chutney.” The changes will no doubt turn a good concept into a mind-blowing breakfast or brunch, increasing the demand for the services of the Sausage Man.
To taste Aris’s sausages, visit the Hanoi Social Club (6 Ngo Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem). Everyone is welcome at Sausage Tuesdays: contact Aris for more info on 01697 911967