"Iron Chef Vietnam" Takes the Helm at New San Diego Restaurant | Welcome Sovereign Vietnamese Cuisine to Former Royal Thai Location

December 20, 2014

San Diego is soon to be home to one of Vietnam’s culinary ambassador. Opening in early 2015, Sovereign will take over the former Royal Thai location at 467 5th Avenue in San Diego's Gaslamp and will offer a modern twist on Vietnamese cuisine, much more than the pho concepts many expect. This will be the fourth restaurant concept introduced to the San Diego market by restaurateur Alex Thao, known for developing unique Asian-inspired destinations like Rama, Lucky Liu’s and Saja Korean Kitchen. Chef Michael "Bao" Huynh is coming back to the U.S. after spending two years in his treasured home country of Vietnam.

Considered “Iron Chef Vietnam,” Chef Huynh returns to the states with extraordinary experience creating and perfecting Vietnamese cuisine. Huynh brings 30 years culinary experience to Sovereign, most recently serving as executive chef at the five star Aveson Ana Mandara & Six Senses Resort in Vietnam. In the early 2000s, Huynh’s New York City restaurants drew droves of foodies who craved his creative approach to Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian cuisines at destinations including Bao 111 (where he was noted as “best chef” by New York Magazine), Mai House and Baoguette (rated as “Best Sandwich of America” in GQ Magazine).

Restaurateur Alex Thao quickly realized what sets Huynh’s talents apart. Thao knew Huynh would be ideal as executive chef and creative consultant for Sovereign. The name “Sovereign” is meant to inspire diners to explore the flavors, style and history of Vietnam and gives Chef Huynh the free will to push the limits of his extraordinary culinary talent.

“Artistic. Energetic. Trendsetting,” said Thao about his new chef. “Bao is incredibly talented and we are thrilled to name him our executive chef at Sovereign. This is the perfect venue for him to launch his next chapter in the States. He’ll get to be creative, mentor his own culinary team and create a destination unique beyond measure.”

Sovereign’s cuisine will be centered upon an artful, fresh and healthy approach to Vietnamese cooking. The menu will give guests the opportunity to try traditional Vietnamese dishes as well as brand new infusions that can only be found by crossing southern California cuisine with Vietnamese. Some of Chef’s signature dishes give perspective to what he may be bringing to San Diego, including the organic chicken clay pot with quail eggs, ginger and caramel, as well as the crispy sweet and sour red snapper, the BBQ short ribs on lemongrass skewer, or a fan favorite, the Yucca Waffle, made with coconut and salted caramel ice cream.

When asked what he treasured most about Vietnamese culture, Chef Bao replied, “the weather and fish sauce!”