Meet this young couple, Samantha and Nicolas, who are dedicated to food and who run VIVIN Grocery & Restaurant, a local Artisan shop on Sukhumvit, soi 63 (Ekamai).
On a Wednesday morning I was invited to visit the VIVIN Grocery of which I had never heard of before. This small, charming and cozy restaurant is well-hidden on 379/78 Soi Sukhumvit soi 63.
I took the BTS from Asoke to Ekamai and from there a motorbike. The motorbike guy new his way, as he must have taken customers there before. Upon arrival I was greeted by Samantha who I had the pleasure to meet once before.
The shop/restaurant is named after Nicolas Vivin, the owner.
Nicolas was born in France near Lyon. He worked for the famous “TROISGROS” (Three fats), a restaurant that has held 3 Michelin stars for over 50 years and managed by the same family for 4 generations. At TROISGROS he learned much and his passion for food grew.
From a young age Nicolas watched his mother cooking. His father is a medical doctor, his mother the perfect hostess, and the couple was known to regularly invite friends for lunches and dinners. Nicolas job as a young man was to set the table and fold the napkins (as long as he lived with his parents) at which he became an expert. Nicolas calls it “ART DE TABLE” (Table Art).
We all must agree that it makes a huge difference to be seated at a beautifully set up table. Napkins, plates, glasses, flowers and candles, all this make a difference and can even increase the tastiness of the food.
In 2013, Nicolas first set foot in Thailand. He had, by telephone, applied for an internship at the legendary Oriental Mandarin Hotel on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. He was a lucky guy to secure an internship at this prestigious hotel.
He arrived in Bangkok and immediately took charge of the Hotel Oriental Mandarin’s shops around Bangkok, as well as the restaurant at the Emporium Shopping mall. He stayed for half a year and then decided to go back to Europe and the famous Hotel School in Lausanne, Switzerland.
After having completed the hotel school course in Lausanne, Nicolas decided it was time to return to Thailand again. He then completed another internship at the Conrad Hotel Bangkok, in banquette and catering. He admits that he never really has worked in the kitchen apart from at TROISGROS.
In 2010 he met Thai/Australian woman Samantha. They ran into each other at a pool party in a condo.
Samantha was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. She came to Thailand to take a course in the Thai language.
“I got trapped and I didn’t go back to Australia” she says. Her parents run a Guesthouse in Phuket called “Boomerang Inn”, but unfortunately they had to close it temporarily due to Covid.
Samantha founded her PR agency 5 years ago and she provides advisory services to numerous clients, among them several restaurants. She also finds time to support her husband at VIVIN Grocery.
VIVIN Grocery opens early at 7.30 am and stays open until 9 pm. You can enjoy a nice breakfast and hot food from 9 am.
I had the pleasure to taste one of their signature dishes, a fluffy omelet inspired by Mere Poulard.
Ann Boutiaut Poulard, also called Mere Poulard, (Mother Poulard) was a woman who distributed her now-famous cakes to the children of visiting pilgrims. Her omelet recipe is today known and eaten around the world from France to Taiwan and Bangkok. The omelet at VIVIN GROCERY is folded at the table.
Mine was filled with goat cheese and I must admit that I never have had a similar omelet before, absolutely divine.
Around 94 % of the products used at VIVIN GROCERY come from Thailand. There are a few exceptions like the “Foie gras” (goose liver) that comes from France as well as some wines and butter. Most wines come from the vineyards in Khao Yai, olive oil and balsamic vinegar are imported from Italy and Greece. Saffron they take from Iran, the absolutely best tasting saffron in the world, Nicolas points out.
Beluga caviar is also sourced from Iran. “We only serve and sell the top Beluga”, Nicolas lets me know and my mouth starts watering. The most expensive Beluga aged 20 years old Sturgeon fishes is very expensive, but offers the guests a taste of heaven.
The best pepper in the world comes from Cambodia and is called KAMPOT and at VIVIN you can try black, white and red.
The couple also produces in their kitchen cold cuts and charcuterie like bresaola, duck rillettes, dried duck magret, foie gras whole duck liver terrin,
Duck liver mousse and also all the desserts are made in- house. They dry and transform some cheeses such as Molene Truffle Cheese and Coline as well.
Everything is organic or biodynamic, with no chemicals. Nicolas and Samantha are proud to be able to introduce all local products and they urge their customers to think of sustainability and try to push people to seek out alternatives and new options.
I can warmly recommend a visit to VIVIN. If you don’t eat there, you can buy their grocery products. There are many homemade types of Chutney, pasta, breads, etc. If you look for that special “give away gift”, you will find it on their shelves.