The duo behind internationally acclaimed ‘pod to bar’ Marou chocolate opens up a vibrant cafe on Calmette Street, with all of their creativity and passion on full display. Elijah Ferrian explores. Photos by Vinh Dao.
A candy-red metal grate awning denotes an entrance to perhaps one of the most comforting aromas that one could amble into. Maison Marou. Cacao production and coffee consumption meeting in a stark-white open air lounge spot nestled perfectly into the neighbourhood landscape.
The space exudes bright colour and contrast. White block letters bathed in turquoise, cream violet, and that signature candy red highlight the cafe’s menu items and various stages of chocolate production in each respective portion of the space. A centre-piece adorned with spectacularly coloured cacao pods really set the experience – the feeling that one is getting a visual tour de force of what Marou is all about.
“Everything is exposed,” says Vincent Mourou, co-owner and business partner to Samuel Maruta. “[We have] two atmospheres: the workshop, and the central, warm area to have a coffee and enjoy the product. The concept was something that Sam and I wanted to do originally, years back. We wanted to have the shop in the front and the workshop in the back. We moved our manufacturing out of town so we could eventually open up a shop. Now, four years later, we were allowed to follow through with it.”
The shop officially opened its doors on 23 May of this year. It offers a stellar selection of coffee options, and in comes an absorbingly decadent cast of pastries and desserts showcasing the chocolate they have built their name on.
I was blessed with cheesecake atop a crisp sablé, accented with candied kumquat peel and floating halo-disks of 65 percent chocolate (VND125,000). It struck a perfect balance between the crunch of cookie, and the tart creaminess of cheesecake. The candied kumquat brings in a beautiful, oily-bitter fruit note. Obviously the chocolate could be picked off and savoured alone. All was devoured.
They also have a slew of new “signature bars” that are only available directly from Marou; expect no exportation of these red and blue wrapped chocolates variously filled with caramelised rice, candied chilli, and a handful of other delicious additions (VND150,000).
“The future for us is to grow our business. We don’t want to be industrialist. We want to keep our values and grow healthily. We would love for this concept to work and to open up another. This concept could grow. We want to be more involved in agriculture. Manufacturing. Retail. Agriculture.”
Noble pursuits one can only imagine are easier won when dealing in chocolate. Trying to produce these cacao dream bars as thoughtfully as humanly possible sets a shining example for all future businesses popping up during this exciting period in Ho Chi Minh City’s history.