Đức is an enthusiastic guy with an energy level that never seems to fade and his mind works in five different ways – all at the same time! Trần Thanh Đức is the proud owner of three  popular restaurants in Hoi An’s UNSECO World Heritage designated Old Town: Mango Mango, Mango Rooms, and Mai Fish. He’s also the owner of a restaurant in Da Nang, Fat Fish. We had the opportunity to follow Đức around the majestic streets of Hoi An, in Central Vietnam for a couple of days to get a glimpse of his life and capture his story. We fell in love with his spirit, passion and mindset. Besides running the four restaurants, raising three lovely daughters, sharing his passion in private cooking classes and maintaining an insane motor vehicles hobby, he still found time to make us cappuccinos to go, showed us Vietnam’s fishing villages and invited us over to his house for breakfast. To see him happy, like a kid in a candy store, over a tuna fish at the market made it an even lovelier morning!

His life seems to be a rollercoaster and after filming this interview, it seems it has always been that way. When he was 15, he fled Vietnam as a boat refugee, ending up at a refugee camp in Malaysia. Here, he volunteered in the kitchen and used his creativity to turn very little ingredients into meals for everyone at the camp. A year later, he immigrated to the USA and worked hard to put himself through college. After working in the field, he realized and his heart and passion wasn’t in engineering. It was in food and hospitality. Drawing inspiration from his time in the kitchen with his mother and years traveling around the USA, Europe and Oceania, he returned to Vietnam in 2003 to open Mango Rooms, his first restaurant.

Having the pleasure of meeting, chatting, interviewing and spending time with Đức filled us with energy. This interview captures just a tiny bit of this great man’s energy and personality. If you’re ever in Vietnam, make sure to visit Mango Mango, Mango Rooms or Mai Fish and meet this special Face of Hoi An.

Duc at the local Hoi An market

Mango Mango

45 Nguyễn Phúc Chu, Hội An
Opening hours 09:00–22:00

Mango Rooms

111 Nguyễn Thái Học, Hội An
Opening hours 09:00–22:00

Mai Fish

45 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Hội An
Opening hours 09:00–22:00

Photos by contributor Kat Pozzan.