Legendary Chocolatier Review
Chocolate has been brightening up people’s lives for almost 4,000 years. The prized cacao seeds from which it is made were even used as currency by the Aztecs. Chocolate was originally taken purely in drink form, and as with many quality food products, it was thought to have aphrodisiacal qualities. Upon its arrival in Europe in the 16th century, it was still only drank, although sugar or honey began to be added. Nowadays, of course, the most popular way to consume it is in confectionary form.
It was the French who brought chocolate to Vietnam, planting cacao trees towards the end of the 19th century. It developed as a crop here in the 1990s, and today, cacao is cultivated in the Southeastern, Central Highlands and Southwestern regions of the country. There are some 54,000 acres taken up for cacao farms. Vietnam is producing about 5,000 tonnes per annum, a figure that experts believe will multiply by a factor of 10 over the next decade. Whilst Europeans account for half the world’s chocolate consumption, the product is slowly gaining popularity in Asia as well.
“Chocolate’s aroma increases theta brain waves, which help us relax.”
Legendary Chocolatier, located in the centre of District 1, has been building a fine reputation for superb quality chocolate since it opened for business in 2015. The shop is small and homely and the staff are very welcoming. Owner Mrs. Hong Hanh Bui and her dedicated staff of 20 hand-craft their beautiful chocolates from their workshop in Go Vap, sending over the finished products to her D1 shop. She hopes to build a new facility in District 12 in 2017 as the business continues to grow.
Mrs. Hanh uses chocolate from beans grown in Ben Tre. These are collected and processed by Puratos, the Belgium-based, world-renowned chocolate manufacturer. They take care of the early stages of the process, while Legendary Chocolatier buys chocolate from them in block form and creates their delicious range of finely crafted confections.
“The manufacture of just one kilogram of chocolate requires almost 900 cacao beans.”
Conscious of health issues, Mrs. Hanh proudly states that from beginning to end, all aspects of Legendary Chocolatier’s products use only fresh, natural Vietnamese ingredients; this also assists other sustainable, homegrown businesses. Their customers are about 60% foreigners and 40% Vietnamese, though the local market is steadily growing.
They have 30 different flavours of chocolate, of which cashew, rum and ginger, coconut, banana, and peanut butter are the top sellers. Mrs. Hanh even buys fresh peanuts to make their own peanut butter. The use of these flavours is clever and nothing overpowers. The subtle tastes that Legendary Chocolatier has created are a joy; the spiced ones are sensational. At first it’s just the chocolate flavour that hits your tongue, but soon after lemongrass, ginger or chilli bursts through. It is apparent these are genuine products; there is no hint of anything other than Vietnam’s top quality natural ingredients. The black sesame and the rum and ginger were particularly outstanding.
“The scientific name for the tree from which chocolate comes is Theobroma cacao, meaning ‘food of the gods'.”
Legendary Chocolatier’s audience are young Vietnamese professionals and foreign tourists, who appreciate quality confectionary. However, teenagers are also starting to indulge in the sweets in increasing numbers. With prices ranging from VND18,000 to VND345,000, these excellent treats are accessible to all chocolate-lovers.
Business customers include Sofitel, Lotte Legend, Song Be Golf and others in the hospitality industry. Bepharco in Ben Tre and the Australian International School are also clients. In addition, the chocolates are also sold at the Saigon Post Office, the War Remnants Museum and in shops on Dong Khoi.
Southern Airport Services Company (SASCO), which operates duty free stores at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, sells boxes of Legendary Chocolatier products to large numbers of tourists as they leave their holiday in Vietnam. The chocolate boxes are beautifully designed, each offering a colourful representation of one of Vietnam’s tourist destinations: Hanoi, Saigon, Hue, Danang, Sapa, Mekong Delta and Hoi An.
Whatever the occasion, if you are looking for that special gift of high-quality Belgian-style chocolates with a delightful Vietnamese twist, Legendary Chocolatier has a range of excellent flavours to arouse your palate.
Address: 46 Truong Dinh, D1