Tribeca Restaurateur Drew Nieporent of Myriad
Restaurant Group recently teamed up with talented chef Michael Bao Huynh from
Bao 111 and Bao Noodles to create Mai House. Serving upscale Vietnamese cuisine,
the 120-seat 4,500 square-foot space that had formerly housed Nieporent’s
Tribakery was a design collaboration between Mr. Huynh and Glen Jones. The
restaurant is located at 186 Franklin Street, literally between Neiporent’s
Nobu and Tribeca Grill.
We caught up with Chef Huynh on a recent afternoon to discuss this new venture
with the one of Manhattan’s most successful and dynamic restaurateurs.
Q. How did you get involved with being a chef, what was your motivation? Did
you have any formal training?
A. My motivation is very simple, when I cook something good, it makes me and
others happy. I have been making people happy and cooking since the age of
twelve. My mom was my first formal training. Working along my mom in her restaurant
in Saigon is where I learned a lot.
Q. How was the experience of opening Mai House different from Bao 111 or Bao
A. Mai House is my house and I am cooking in my kitchen. Mai House is the
next level of Vietnamese cooking, and it’s a more ambitious restaurant,
backed by Drew Nieporent and Myriad Group.
Q. Your mother was a chef and a restaurant owner and your father was an architect,
did you learn a lot from them?
A. Cooking is a culinary art and architecture is also art. I got flavor from
my mom and art from my father. For me, culinary art and architecture begin
Q. You’ve been called the architect chef, and you designed this
restaurant, tell us what materials you used around the dining room and what
kind of feeling you were looking to achieve?
A. Ancient. Fascinating. Beautiful. The culture of modern Vietnam is filled
with complexities. When I was traveling in Vietnam, one is struck not only
by the hospitality of the people and the physical beauty of the country, but
also by the continuity of traditional craftsmanship. Today, many time-honored
materials are being utilized in unexpected, contemporary ways. Blending a respect
for Vietnamese tradition with new uses for conventionally crafted materials,
we created an elegant modern space that is warm and inviting, but mindful of
its cultural inspiration. From the antique stone sculptures to the mother-of-pearl
tiles, an aesthetic balance, wedding old and new, has created this truly Vietnamese
Q. How did your partnership with Drew and Myriad Restaurant Group begin?
A. I have been very active in promoting Vietnamese cuisine in the USA and
the world. Since 2004 I have brought many American chefs and culinary students
to Vietnam on a culinary tour of Vietnam. I invited Drew on the trip hoping
he would love Vietnamese food, and would maybe become a business partner
later! That has now begun.
Q. What do you think the most popular dishes will be at Mai house, and why?
A. A lot of dishes are popular at Mai House, but for me, I like Black Cod
with Shark Fin Consommé, House’s Lacxa - King Prawn, rock shrimp
and shrimp noodles in spicy curry broth and the whole crispy red snapper.
Q. What would you like your customers to learn about Vietnamese cuisine that
they may have overlooked?
A. Vietnamese cuisine is less spicy and more refreshing than Thai cuisine.
We use much less oil and corn starch as Chinese cuisine. Overall, Vietnamese
cuisine is very healthy, refreshing, but with lots of flavor and very spicy.
Q. What special talents do you think chefs who make Vietnamese cuisine need
to have to do well in the United States?
A. Fortunately, I was born, bred and began cooking in Saigon, Vietnam. I do
understand the sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavor of our Vietnamese cuisine.
I think any chefs in the USA who understand the flavor of our cuisine would
This website designed by Business Edge. Click here for Restaurant Website design information