In the last year, Kiev was introduced to Vietnamese culture through one of its most distinctive elements – its food. We have met with the creators of the very first Vietnamese restaurant in Kiev that has since become a favourite and busy place. We talked with Kristina Granenko and Irina Kushnirskaya about Chang: the Vietnamese Bistronomie.
Out of all the Asian countries, you have chosen Vietnam. Why?
We had been working on this project for around three years before the launch. We have known our chef, Yan Nguyen for more than ten years. He is the representative of Vietnamese culture and has so skilfully interpreted it into the menu of our restaurant. Yan’s father is Vietnamese and he has family in Vietnam too.
There were no restaurants in Kiev where you could try the contemporary Vietnamese food when we started to think about this project. Only several little spots, but not any known to the wide public. We were persuaded that like elsewhere in the world, it is a type of cuisine that will become popular sooner or later in Kiev, so we decided to bring it closer.
The Georgian Chichiko restaurant next door is your restaurant too, isn’t it?
Yes, Chichiko as a project was born before Chang. When we visited the site of the future Georgian restaurant, the owner of the building suggested that we see the place next door. It is then when we have realised that we can bring our second project to life. However, curiously enough, Chang opened its doors to the visitors first.
Who designed the menu?
Our chef Yan Nguyen did, he is a very talented young man. He has previous experience of 14 years in different projects in Kiev. He was probably the first one to introduce this very particular Asian touch into European cuisine in Kiev.
You name your place a bistronomie, what does that concept mean to you?
Bistronomie is a format we have chosen deliberately. For us it means fast service, affordable price and descent taste. In a modern rhythm, everyone wants to be served a good soup in 5 minutes time. This is what we do.
Have you changed the menu since the restaurant was opened?
We have adapted it due to the season, so now in winter it is more hearty and starchy and we have a lighter and fresher summer menu. Definitely, we have to adapt to the seasonal vegetables and fruits too. We have also added more vegetarian options. When started, we did not realize how many vegetarians there are in Kiev. Every fourth client is vegetarian so we had to make the menu more diverse.
How long did it take you to open the restaurant?
It took as around a year. The building was a classic working space before, so we had to build and design everything from zero. It took from four to five months of project preparations and then six to seven months of building works. Redesigning the location that used to be a restaurant is less time-consuming definitely.
Do you have Vietnamese customers and what do they say about the place?
Yes, we do have business people from the Embassy of Vietnam, we have Vietnamese families. The embassy of Japan, Korea too, we deliver catering to them when they have delegations from abroad. They enjoy it as much as we do!
You have recently received SALT ( “Соль”) award, congratulations on that!
We would never have thought that we would have won. I applied secretly; Ira was slightly skeptic about it. She says I was brave and ambitious (laugh) to nominate us for the “Opening of the Year” category but we did it! We actually did not know that so many people in Kiev knew about it, as right after the award ceremony we had many people coming to see and taste us.
How big was your team at the start?
Two of us, our third partner Steve Kotenko and our chef Yan. The team after grew bigger and bigger.
What does Chang mean?
Chang means the first-born in Vietnamese. It has a symbolic meaning for us too as it is the first project we started to work together on with the team we have now.
Do you have previous experience in restaurant business?
We do and we have already worked together with Ira! Ira has been working for more than 12 years in La Cosmopolite restaurant; I had been working on the opening of the restaurants Chachapuri and MamaManana.
Signature dish: Soup Pho bo
Signature drink: Viet Colada
Average meal price: 180 UAH
Vibe: fresh & unsual, Asian, perfect for going out dinners and business lunches
Adress: Yaroslaviv Val 23a, Kiev
To book a table: +38 067 873 7878