#CBfriends: Viet Cafe


The heroes of our new interview in the #CBfriends section are representatives of Viet Café: brand manager Olga Vasilchuk and operating director Alexander Zolotarev.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started collaborating with Viet Café?

Olga: Currently I am the brand manager of the Viet Café chain . Work in the HoReCa field began for me in 2008 at the Shokoladnitsa company . Then I went to Viet Café. This is a great experience: firstly, because we are a chain, secondly, this is a cuisine not typical for our region, and thirdly, in our restaurants of Northern Vietnamese cuisine we try to present dishes in a more or less familiar manner, with while preserving the authenticity as much as possible.

And Alexander was born in this company :)

Alexander: No, I’m a little older! I immediately started working in the restaurant business. First - at Rosinter in 2002; I worked on many projects there. And at some point I ended up in Viet Café. Still, here, unlike other establishments in the chain segment, everything is a little different - the atmosphere, family is present, and I like it.

Alexandr Zolotarev

Viet Café is the only chain of Vietnamese restaurants in Moscow. All establishments are quite different, do they have a common concept?

Olga: Of course, there is a single concept - we are a network. First of all, we are the “carriers” of the cuisine of northern Vietnam, so we present a certain set of traditional dishes. Vietnamese cuisine is very diverse: the food varies from north to south, but we have pho soup, which is prepared like it is prepared in northern Vietnam, we have nems, which are absolutely traditional for Vietnam, and although our drink menu is quite minimalist, the same Vietnamese coffee is presented. Overall we don't have a bloated menu, and that's intentional because we want to keep the core flavors without going too authentic. Vietnamese cuisine has a lot of exotic things that not everyone will eat, so we focus on basic dishes.

Our main priorities are service and quality. In addition, we are very loyal to our guests - and these are not empty words. At each point we have our regular visitors, and they are very different from each other. This is, of course, due more to territoriality than to differences in interiors or service. But at the same time, we have, as Alexander said, family values, and they apply to both the team and our guests - like in The Godfather, only with Vietnam and without crime :) Almost all guests continue to come to this restaurant ( on Profsoyuznaya ), although it was previously located in a different location. Our friendship has lasted for years and we consider this part of the concept.

viet coffee

Now you are actively developing the FoBo concept, how does it differ from the Viet Café concept?

Olga: “FoBo” is a completely different story. This is Hanoi street food, and most of the points are located in shopping centers (only 3 stand alone - on Arma, Pushechnaya Street and Denisovsky Lane). The menu there is much narrower than in the restaurant - mainly basic dishes, rice and noodles, which are the basis of the Vietnamese diet, of course, pho bo and Vietnamese coffee. We consider FoBo as a place where you can have a quick, tasty and healthy meal. Because Vietnamese food is all about being healthy, it’s low in fat, and it’s well-balanced. If we talk about the target audience, these are young people under 30 years old.

Alexander: By the way, at Pushechnaya we decided to try a somewhat unusual format: pho, craft beer and hookahs.

Why do you think pho soup has become one of the most popular dishes in Moscow?

Olga: You know, three years ago, when I just came to work here, I read a lot of forecasts for the development of this area, studied reviews and trends, and everyone agrees on one thing: in the next 7 years, the era of Pan-Asian cuisine is expected. By today we have managed to go through the stage of Japanese cuisine and are gradually moving away from it.


Alexander: Together with Japan, Italy was also in trend, and many chains changed their concept, combining restaurants of Italian and Japanese cuisine into pan-Asian ones.

Olga: Well, yes. Everyone has long been fed up with Europe, and the fashion for Asia and healthy food only reinforces this trend.

In addition, many people from different countries come to the capital, some stay, and everyone brings something of their own. For example, our owner is a native Vietnamese, and he often talks about how he misses his native cuisine and wants to eat familiar dishesand also far from home. People who have visited Asian countries also often fall in love with the local cuisine, and some want to try exotic dishes without going on a trip.

I think that philosophy, which is based on harmony, also plays a role. We all want harmony, and Asian restaurants with a special atmosphere, tasty and healthy food are quite capable of giving us this.

Alexander: By the way, Vietnamese cuisine is also very popular in Europe. When we opened Viet Café in London, the pan-Asian boom had already begun there.

Olga: I’ll tell you a secret, if you evaluate restaurants by importance, then for us it’s always points in London and Ryazan.


Is there a prospect for the development of Vietnamese cuisine in Russian regions?

Olga: In Moscow you can find whatever you want, whenever you want, unlike many Russian cities, where stores close quite early and there aren’t that many restaurants. But there is a prospect for cities with a population of over a million.

Alexander: But I believe that it exists for all cities, and it just takes time. I think that most chain establishments are currently focusing on Moscow and St. Petersburg, but in the future they will open restaurants in the regions, as Planet Sushi did in its time.

Who is behind your signature dishes and drinks?

Alexander: Behind our dishes is our concept chef - Vietnamese chef Nguyen Thanh Hai. He is responsible for the entire kitchen and main menu. He is our main inspiration and the author of all the dishes we serve.

Olga: In addition, all the sous chefs and most of the kitchen staff are also Vietnamese.

How do you see your visitor?

Olga: We, of course, have a certain general collective portrait - a person 25-37 years old, established in the profession, who loves his work and has hobbies and interests, of course, travels and is open to everything new. But all our guests are completely different. These are fans of Vietnam and Vietnamese cuisine who regularly travel there and want to be able to eat Vietnamese food in Moscow. These are people who live nearby or who accidentally stopped by and stayed, perhaps even unexpectedly for themselves; as well as those who come to us for business lunches. People also come to us with children - the food may not be familiar, but it is very tasty and not too spicy.

Alexander: Yes, in addition, we have children’s areas, we hold special master classes for children, so they find it interesting.

Olga: It is worth noting that territoriality also influences which guests come to us. For example, any guest can turn up at Gazetny, because the public in the center is very diverse. On Taganka these are creative people: there are art and theater universities nearby. Visitors to the location in the City are mainly office workers. And at Viet Café on Profsoyuznaya street people come to relax with their families.

viet cafe interior

What do you consciously draw the attention of your guests to?

Olga: We draw the attention of our guests to how to eat our dishes correctly. The waiters suggest what to add, where and in what order, what sauces to use, and of course, focus on the degree of spiciness. Those who come to us regularly know all this, but newcomers sometimes get lost.

We also pay attention to the promotions that we are holding. We recently launched a charity event, which we organized jointly with the Leukemia Foundation. This is a special red menu, and all income from the sale of dishes from it will go to this fund.

Alexander: Despite the fact that this is unusual for Vietnam, we have hookahs, and I am always ready to note that they are very good. A very uncharacteristic symbiosis, but very successful, in my opinion.

Did you try to preserve the local flavor in the interior and what were you guided by when choosing dishes?

Alexander: The first Viet Café restaurants sought to preserve the culture of Vietnam as much as possible, so they had a rather interesting, slightly adapted interior in the Vietnamese style, with niches in the walls in which there were figurines, crafts, and so on. And in the last couple of years we have been coming to a more modern style, trying to make our restaurants a little lighter.

Olga: In new restaurants, the interior is more minimalistic, and this is largely due to general trends in design. It seems to me that this is due to the fact that we are constantly overloaded with information, so we try to make the “interface” of our lives as simple as possible. It’s the same in our restaurants: in the interior and serving of dishes, we preserve only certain significant elements and in such a way that it is unobtrusive, we get such a “background”authenticity. And deep immersion in culture simply ceases to be necessary, because people travel around the world on their own and see everything with their own eyes.

viet cafe interior


The aesthetics of serving dishes in Asian countries is quite different from European ones. Do you follow traditions or adapt them in a European way?

Alexander: In this regard, we try to monitor the market. Back in 2005, when we had only 2 restaurants, we had shark fins and frog legs - Vietnam is a former French colony - people, of course, perceive such authenticity much worse. But you can experiment with the presentation itself. Now we have brought the serving of food as close as possible to what people can see in Vietnam.

Combinations of spices in traditional dishes are not entirely familiar to our region; is it difficult to choose drinks to go with them?

Alexander: Of course, there are classic options - white wine is served with fish, red wine with meat, we have a standard cocktail menu, which we modify from time to time, it is small, there is real Vietnamese green tea. But in seasonal offers we try to create complex sets - interesting new dishes and drinks to go with them.


Have you ever been to work in our MONIN Studio?

Olga: I was. Hello Gregory!

Does developing a cocktail menu help attract new customers?

Alexander: Yes, in fact, we are always interested in new trends. And from the Complex-Bar company, with its 20 years of experience in preparing everything, you can get a lot of good ideas. For example, last season we really liked MONIN Lemongrass syrup - it fit our menu perfectly.

Olga: Last time I came to Grigory with the idea of making sets with authentic Vietnamese dishes and classic European cocktails on the seasonal menu. Gregory prepared many options, I really liked the coffee drink he suggested. The whole process from preparation to submission is very complex and interesting, and he does it very professionally. As a result, we chose a few drinks that suited us, and now they are presented on our seasonal menu. Let's see what comes of this idea. If the idea of combining the typically Vietnamese with the typically European works, we will continue to develop it.

What aspects do you value most about working with Complex-Bar?

Alexander: I collaborated with Complex-Bar while I was still at Rosinter - since then only Complex-Bar. And on behalf of the Viet Café network, we have been cooperating with you since our founding, since 2005. We are developing a cocktail direction with MONIN syrups; Lately I've also liked the idea of using creamers to make sauces and serve them like cream. I really like how Complex-Bar approaches offering something new: providing a studio for development, training, development of presentation standards... Full coverage of this range of work is very cool, in my opinion.

Olga: I’ll add about the dishes, which is important. Firstly, I would buy half of the dishes displayed in your showroom for home :) It’s nice that you have so many different types and trends represented. For example, if I want to get creative tomorrow, I can come to you and choose something like that. I remember once running all over Moscow, looking for red plates - as if they didn’t exist in the world, they couldn’t be found anywhere. And Steelite found them.

Alexander: Yes, from Steelite, with a lifetime guarantee :)

Olga: Both our manager Vladimir and Grigory are ready to offer options for any request. This integrated approach to work is very convenient for us.

red cocktail

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