A chat with a young Marsellaise restaurateur

Lise Dang, originally from Marseille, lives her dream of making aromatic and modern Vietnamese cuisine. France.fr caught up with the young entrepreneur who, in her three Petit SAO restaurant locations on the island of Montreal, offers Asian cuisine with French influences. During the interview, we quickly realized that the original flavours of Petit SAO have everything to do with the history of the Dang family and her multicultural background.

You grew up in Marseille, Provence, and came to Montreal at the age of 16. Talk to us about the quintessential Marseillais life.

In Marseille, living by the sea and in the sun most of the year definitely has an impact on people’s lifestyle. The pace of life is quite different. We take more time to have a coffee or a drink with friends or colleagues on a terrace. The culture of aperitifs is rooted in Marseille. It's very friendly and inviting!

How do you define your culinary style?

Petit SAO (External link) is a Vietnamese restaurant in the image of our time. We offer a simple and fast menu while keeping the friendliness of the service and homemade recipes.

Our main goal is to offer a gourmet, healthy, and contemporary Vietnamese cuisine with our own little twist in a modern setting with Vietnamese accents.

Tell us about the French influences on Vietnamese cuisine and the French specialties that inspire you.

Since Indochina, many products and dishes have been taken up and adapted by the Vietnamese. They have become popular and are now rooted in Vietnamese culture. For example, banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich on baguette bread, is an integral part of Vietnamese cuisine. Maggi sauce, butter, la Vache qui rit, caramel custards, hot pies, small butter puff pastries stuffed with pork are also a must in Vietnamese cuisine. My favourite French specialties are pastries, particularly pure butter ones, as well as small bistros! Moreover, at our restaurant, we created the Cromi which is a fusion between a banh mi and a croissant! The best of both worlds!

The French artist Matéo has painted murals in your restaurants. Do they have a special meaning to you and your family?

One of the murals that Matéo (External link) made was inspired by a photo that my father André Dang (who died almost 3 years ago) took of my sister and me when we were very young. It is therefore a tribute to life and to youth. My father who would have been very proud to see this beautiful mural representing his two little stars (Sao in Vietnamese).

Which activities would you recommend first to a traveler visiting Marseille?

Visit the breathtaking Mucem Museum, the old town of Le Panier, and stroll along the Old Port. And why not take the ferry to discover the Friuli Islands? Go along the sea to the valleys of the Auffes to eat or have a drink. Walk on the cornice, climb up to Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica to have a breathtaking view of Marseille. Take a short hike in the Calanques to have an aperitif and swim! Finish with a real bouillabaisse, a pizza made with wood fire or a good seafood platter!

Le Petit Sao / Ile des Soeurs, 40 Place du Commerce , 438-333-3888
Le Petit Sao / Pointe Saint-Charles - Maintenant ouvert! 1870 Rue du Centre, Montréal, 514-543-0988
Le Petit Sao / Marché Atwater, 138 Av. Atwater (17 Mai au 15 Octobre)
SAO SAO Brossard (External link) , 7209 Boulevard Taschereau , 450-443-2388