The must-buy food souvenir from Vietnam most tourists miss

Fine chocolate might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vietnam but these artisanal chocolate makers are doing a sweet job of championing local cacao.

Stonehill Cacao, Vietnam
  • Cheong Kamei
  • May 2019

Small-batch, single-origin and artisanal chocolates are nothing new. Most people just don’t associate them with Vietnam. It’s understandable. Even though cacao crops aren’t new to Vietnam (it was introduced by the French in the 1800s), it’s a tiny crop compared to more profitable ones like coffee and pepper. It doesn’t help that locals don’t exactly have a great appetite for chocolate.

Marou, Vietnam
Marou, the first artisanal chocolate maker in Vietnam, works directly with farmers. By cutting the middlemen out of the process, they are better able to control the quality of cacao and pay farmers higher prices for their crop.

There are however, a few artisans in Vietnam who are hoping to change that by focusing on producing the best chocolate possible with Vietnamese cacao. Whether it’s by working directly with farmers, adopting traditional French techniques of chocolate making or taking control of every process such as the roasting of the beans, these pioneers don’t just want to woo locals, they want to win over chocolate lovers all over the world.

Here are five of the best chocolates to get on your next trip to Vietnam.

1. Marou

Marou, Vietnam
If you’re in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, head to café/patisserie/retail store Maison Marou to check out the full range of chocolates (and get yourself a signature Marou hot chocolate).

The first bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Vietnam, and arguably the brand that put Vietnamese chocolate on the map, Marou marries French techniques with the best cacao from six provinces.

2. Stone Hill

Stone Hill chocolate, Vietnam
Other than Durian Dark Chocolate, look out for Stone Hill’s Sesame Salt Dark Chocolate as well.

This family-run company grows cacao on its own farm. Being both farmer and chocolate maker makes Stone Hill part of a very exclusive group of people (only 0.1 percent of the world’s chocolate is tree-to-bar) who are able to take full control of every step of the process. And with the largest private collection of cacao varieties in Vietnam, they are able to create unique blends.

3. Pheva Chocolate

Pheva Chocolate, Vietnam
Pheva Chocolate has stores in Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Hoi An.

Made from single-origin, single-variety cacao cultivated in Ben Tre, South Vietnam, Pheva Chocolate offers boxes of six, 12 and 24 single-serve chocolates including its signature flavour of Sesame & Peanut.

4. Belvie Chocolate

Belvie Chocolate, Vietnam
Belvie Chocolate that uses the best Trinitario cacao beans is also available in France and Belgium.

Belvie Chocolate uses Belgian technology to create beautiful expressions of the Trinitario variety of cacao across different terroir. From the robust chocolate made from beans in the mountainous region of Lam Dong to the bright flavours that come from the flat plains of Dong Nai, it’s the most delicious way to eat your way through Vietnam.

Alluvia

Alluvia chocolate, Vietnam
The dark chocolate range showcases the purest expressions of the cacao beans.

Alluvia’s chocolates are designed to showcase cacao from Tien Giang in the Mekong Delta of Southern Vietnam — the soil is rich in alluvium, which results in beans with unique fruity flavours.