Hai is a Vietnamese refugee who eventually resettled in New Orleans, Louisiana following the Vietnam War. He became a fisherman and worked at the fish market to support his family. While fishing, he met Laurel after trying to save her mistakenly believing she was drowning. They later encountered each other at the market, and despite their language barriers, Hai ended up asking her out on date, offering to cook for her.
Hai and Laurel eventually fell deeply in love, however they faced road blocks in their relationship as Laurel, being from a distinguished family, was being pressured to marry a man from her father's company. Her father would not have approved of Hai. Pushed to her limits, Laurel makes the decision to leave New Orleans, asking Hai to run away with her. However, Hai chose his parents being the only support system they had.
Sometime after his break up with Laurel, Hai moved on and eventually married another woman whom he had children with. When Laurel finally returned, he often waved at her across from his fish stand at the market. Despite clearly being in love with her, Hai kept his distance out of love and respect for his own new family.
After several decades, Hai's wife passed away and his children moved out of New Orleans. He noticed Laurel had closed up her stand. Concerned, he visited her to discover she had been diagnosed with an aggressive tumor. Like before, he offers to cook for her, and eventually rekindling their romance. They discover the doctor had misdiagnosed her, and Laurel ends up living for another two years before passing away of breast cancer in 2015.
Hai eventually retires, occasionally caring for his granddaughter, Linh when she visits. Later on, after stumbling upon Randall's viral video, Hai reaches out to Randall to reveal he knew Randall's birth mother. He invites Randall and his wife Beth to come to New Orleans to tell Laurel's story and about his romance with Laurel. Hai ended up inheriting Laurel's farmhouse and property, but passes it on to Randall as a parting gift.
Though Hai tells Randall that he and Laurel were "close friends," however the truth is Hai and Laurel actually fell in love. Hai still considers Laurel to be "the love of his life." They eventually broke up when Laurel leaves New Orleans and Hai was unable to leave his family, being their only financial support. When Laurel returned, Hai had already moved on with a new wife and family, however acknowledged Laurel at the markets, often waving to each other. Despite their lingering romantic feelings, they kept their distance. Eventually, they rekindled their relationship decades later, with Hai cooking and caring for her when she supposedly was diagnosed with a tumor. Hai was also present at the end of Laurel's life before she passed away from cancer.
Linh is Hai's American-born granddaughter of Hai. He is teaching her how to fish and speak Vietnamese.
Notes and Trivia
"I will not tell you who I cook for, but show you how I cook for her." - Hai to Linh
"I cook. You eat." - Hai to Laurel