khao se toronto

Toronto husband and wife team start up side hustle during lockdowns and keep selling out

A Toronto husband and wife that started up a business during lockdowns are keeping it going as a side hustle that keeps selling out, even though one of them now has a full-time job. 

Khao Se is run by Jawwad Rinch and Nabiha Hussain, and is named for their signature dish, which is a twist on a food Toronto already knows and loves: khao soi.

Their take is a Pakistani interpretation of a Burmese version of the dish called khao se (actually the original version), distinguished for them by a creamy coconut curry on top of noodles.

They started up Khao Se in October 2020 after Hussain had just moved to Toronto in April 2019 and was without a job. Rinch came to visit her in February 2020 right before lockdowns hit full force, causing him to stay in Toronto.

"We both were jobless and were dipping into our savings, not the best of the scenarios for a new couple," Rinch tells blogTO. "Keeping in mind we were also planning our wedding."

The wedding was set to take place overseas, but restrictions dashed those plans.

"Being locked in a tiny studio, we started to miss home comfort food, something we grew up having our grandmothers and moms making. 
We have been big foodies since a very young age, I had some experience working in the industry," says Rinch.

"Working with food always got me calm and relaxed, hence I started convincing Nabiha to start something in the food industry, business runs in our veins as both of us came from family business backgrounds. With that said little did we know within a month we were selling Khao Se out of our home."

You can order chicken or beef khao se starting at $14.99 from the couple for pickup or delivery via Instagram DM. Toppings like spring onions, crispy onions, lime, chili flakes and garlic chips are included. Add on beverage Pakola for a true Pakistani experience.

"A comfort food we grew up having, it was never found on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan where we originally came from," says Rinch. "It was always a mom or grandma kind of a recipe, as khao se, khao soi or khow suey is originally a Burmese dish and with time passing by came down to the subcontinent of Pakistan and India with migration."

Hussain had actually originally wanted to start a business in the beauty industry working with skin, facial and body care, but the uncertainty of the times made her unsure about pursuing that idea. At this point, though, she actually now has another full-time job. Rinch has made Khao Se his full-time focus, with Hussain still helping during her off hours.

"We started by doing made to orders and started selling out within hours. Now we do seven days a week and sell out mostly by 5 to 6 p.m.," says Rinch.

"We did our first ever successful pop-up at Smorgasburg Toronto and have multiple more pop-ups planned for the coming months. Khao Se got voted as the best dish of the festival by many and we were called back as a surprise vendor for the grand finale on September 10 by popular demand."

Lead photo by

Ankit Bhasin


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