“It was eight years ago when I first visited Hanoi and tasted the flavours of Vietnamese cuisine,” says So Yeon Kim, or Soy, as she introduces herself.
The Asian Connection
“As a Korean, I found familiarity in the fermented-based Vietnamese cuisine, since much of the flavour comes from nuoc mam (fermented fish sauce),” she says. “Not only was it familiar, but also the harmony of the tastes, and the variety of local herbs paired with different types of meat, opened up my taste buds. It was a pleasant surprise.”
“I realised most of the dining experience in Hanoi seemed somewhat limited, despite the abundant resources that the culture and nature of Vietnam offers,” she says.
MAD Society isn’t the first venture that Soy has made into the F&B industry in Vietnam.
“We started with a farm-to-cup coffee brand called VPRESSO,” she says. “Korea is the second-largest consumer of coffee in the world, so when we came to Hanoi and realised how difficult it was to get a good latte or espresso, we decided to take matters into our own hands.”
“It went well, so we decided we’d see how far we could go. We looked at what else was missing and found that there was nowhere dedicated to gin, so we opened our gin bar, Mad Botanist.”
Tradition? What’s That?
After the construction of the Somerset residences on Xuan Dieu, Soy received an offer to open a restaurant on the fourth floor.
“I wanted to introduce a new way of enjoying Vietnamese cuisine, along with flavours from other Asian countries including Korea, Japan and Thailand, to create a unique sensory experience of Asian flavours,” says Soy.
“For example, have you tried kim chi with reisling?” she asks. “The wine’s hint of sweetness helps offset the hot and tangy notes of the kim chi.”
MAD Society’s rebellious approach to the rulebook has allowed them to create dishes like the phorito (literally, pho in a burrito), and their signature bun cha takes a completely different approach to what you’d usually expect, with the broth coming separately in a teapot.
Soy has built a small empire of madness in Hanoi’s F&B scene. We hope she doesn’t slow down any time soon.
MAD Society is at 2 Tay Ho, Tay Ho, Hanoi.
PHOTOS BY TEIGUE JOHN BLOKPOEL
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