“Everything we do attempts to reflect simplicity. The food styling, the plating, the interiors and the kitchen. Keep it simple, but do it well,” says Camilla.
In contrast to competitors in Ho Chi Minh City who strive to bedazzle diners with over-the-top decor and feigned sophistication, MAD House demonstrates quality seemingly without trying too hard. It’s refreshing in a district that’s overdone with Korean barbecue.
“The concept for us was that we needed a place where we kind of wanted to chill all day long,” says Camilla, who with Casper, was a chef at the famous Henne Kirkby Kro in Denmark when it won Scandinavian restaurant of the year.
So accustomed have we become to minimalist Nordic design characterised by straight clean lines, open spaces, natural colours and soft lighting, you could be excused for thinking you’re walking into a high-end homewares showroom and not an affordable family restaurant such is the inviting ambience of the MAD House space.
In a Good Space
It has to be a good sign that a couple of chefs are looking to chill in their own restaurant. Indeed, the space lends itself to chilling and an escape from the hot tropical sun. In 360sqm of floor space, MAD House offers spaces within a space.
If a catch-up coffee is all you need (MAD House has their own coffee blend), there’s a space for that. If you’re hanging for something stronger after a stressful day at work (MAD House has its own beer), there’s a trendy bar space with floor to ceiling windows where you can turn off and wonder about life in Denmark. Even kids have a play space.
“We want it to be a family friendly restaurant, not a kids' restaurant, but a restaurant where kids are welcome,” says Camilla. “But at the same time we want to be a place for business meetings or romantic liaisons.”
MAD as Anything
The drinks list includes beers and ciders ranging from VND45,000 to VND125,000. There are both Old World and New World wines by the glass (VND75,000 to VND150,000) and by the bottle (VND550,000 to VND3.9 million).
The items that stand out are Camilla and Casper’s own creations. There’s a cocktail called a MAD Olada made with Pampero rum, pineapple, coconut and lime (VND125,000), a MAD beer with Bulleit bourbon, passionfruit and peach (VND135,000), and a non-alcoholic coconut and lime MAD soda (VND55,000).
Because MAD House opens from 11am, there’s no breakfast menu, so we went straight for the lunch set of which there are two that reflect the culinary palates of the clientele in District 7.
There’s an Asian/Vietnamese lunch set (VND145,000) with a choice of beef or chicken pho, braised chicken with chilli and lemongrass, seafood fried rice, or braised pork with black pepper.
The braised chicken with chilli and lemongrass tasted exactly as you’d expect, fresh and tender with that tell-tale aromatic lemongrass fragrance coupled alongside a serving of freshly steamed white rice.
The Western lunch set costs VND225,000, but we chose the MAD salad (VND275,000) which comes with finely-sliced Serrano ham, pan-seared prawns, goat cheese gratin, and dobs of foie gras scattered among a colourful bed of lettuce.
Like everything we’d seen and tasted to this point, the MAD salad was fresh and clean with the goat cheese gratin topping off a great salad to be enjoyed by yourself or with a friend.
For our final dish, we went Danish and chose the smorebrod (VND195,000) which is a delightful looking and tasting Danish-style open-faced sandwich (only one slice of bread) topped with slices of small boiled potato beneath a devilled egg mayonnaise layer topped with prawn tails and watercress.
Another exciting thing about MAD House is that it’s an example of how District 7 is growing its culinary wings and becoming worth a visit.
MAD House District 7 is located at No.2 Street C, Tan Phu, Q7, HCMC on the 2nd floor of Capri by Fraser serviced apartments. It is open every day from 11am - 10pm
Photos by Vu Ha Kim Vy