Think of Vietnam and the first few things that come to mind are motorcycles, dusty roads, strong coffee and steaming bowls of pho. It’s hardly a glowing image to have and it veils the contemporary cultural scene that bubbles quietly below the tourist radar.
That could be set to change if SPRMRKT had its way. The two-storey restaurant and casual deli is showcasing the country’s booming artisanal scene all the way through 20 March 2018, bringing together artists, ceramicists, chefs, coffee growers and even chocolate makers in one space.
This marks the first time that the establishment is making such an effort, though it has plans to make this an annual feature highlighting the various countries of Southeast Asia.
The debut showcase takes place through an ongoing retail section with shelfspace dedicated to craft products on the first floor and one-off events where the country’s most interesting names will be flown in.
So what’s in store? For starters, the space will be offering a different Vietnamese street food dish every day (beef pho is on Saturdays and bahn mi is on Tuesdays.) There’s also a range of premium coffee beans, hand made ceramic pieces painted with traditional Vietnamese motifs and artisanal oils and soaps for the home.
The founders of Marou Faisuers de Chocolat – one of the pioneers of single origin chocolates – will also be in town to hold a workshop on pairing chocolates with spirits while Vietnamese-American chef Peter Cuong Franklin from Anan Saigon will be taking over the kitchens for a series of events. Here’s more.
Just how much does terroir and cacao percentage matter when it comes to pairing chocolate with spirits? Samuel Maruta — one of Marou’s founders will be exploring this question when he’s in town to conduct this two hour workshop. Expect a degustation of the brand’s dark chocolate offerings alongside a range of spirits like Champagne, Prosecco, wine, gin and whiskey.
Saturday, 3 February, 4pm – 6pm.
Street food meets street art on this party held on 16th March as chef Peter Cuong Franklin will be plating up six street food dishes as Vietnamese graffiti artist Suby One works his magic on the graffiti wall. Expect classic rock and soul beats from the 60s to the 70s to be playing overhead while those who are hungry for more can dig in to barbecued meats and pizzas cooked on an open fire charcoal grill.
Friday, 16 March, 6pm – 10pm.
Delve deep into the heart of Vietnamese cuisine and learn about its ingredients through this workshop by chef Peter Cuong Franklin. It will showcase the Bánh Trang Tron salad — a medley of shredded rice paper, herbs and beef with garlic and shallots made piquant with lime juice. Chef Peter will also be bringing ingredients unique to Vietnam — guaranteed to be a treat to adventurous gourmands with a penchant for discovering endemic produce.
Saturday, 17 March, 3pm – 5pm.
If you only have time for one food event for this Vietnamese showcase, be sure to bookmark dinner on 17th March. Chef Peter Cuong Franklin will be taking over the kitchens to present his rendition of ‘New Vietnamese Cuisine’. Keep an eye out for the Rhum Belami — Vietnam’s first premium handcrafted rum made with native Vietnamese ingredients.
Saturday, 17 March, 6pm – 10pm.
Take your appreciation of terroir to the next level, and turn it into functional ceramics you can use in your daily life. That’s the premise that Singaporean ceramics artist Chloe Tan offers for her workshop. Here, participants will be asked to take a clay sample from the neighbourhood of their choice to be turned into a ceramic dish.