For a nation enamoured with bubble tea and fast-food snacks, clean and healthy living isn’t exactly a buzzword amongst Vietnam’s growing younger generation. Mandy Nguyen and her juice shop Naturaw, however, are spearheading the start of a growing conversation in educating consumers of exactly what it is that we put into our bodies.
After living and studying in London for numerous years, Nguyen developed a love for cold-pressed juices and healthy snacks and, after noticing the health benefits, started to incorporate them into her daily routine. Upon returning to her home in Vietnam two years ago she was surprised to see how difficult it was to find a good juice shop that served high quality and pure juices that didn’t sprinkle a plethora of additives into the mix. “What was even more surprising to me was that people didn’t really pay much attention to nutritious food and drinks. Locals would rather spend the same amount of money on sweets and junk food instead of healthy snacks.”
This realisation sparked the idea for Nguyen’s overall mission with Naturaw, and eventually led to her investing her time, energy and knowledge into developing products and services that delivered tangible changes in people’s lifestyles in Hanoi. Although Naturaw sells plentiful juices, teas and breakfast foods, the real value Nguyen wants to offer is a place where people can discover, learn and engage with their health. Taking care of oneself through eating and drinking is paramount to Nguyen’s vision, and she has gone to great lengths to curate every aspect of the juice shop to ensure its standards reflect the company values.
“We imported a cold-press juicer from the UK and we are one of the first in the city to have one. What sets it apart from other juicers is that it doesn’t use heat nor does it cut the fruit or vegetables, which means that almost all of the nutrition in the ingredients is preserved.”
Nguyen majored in fashion branding, and although it may seem irrelevant in the juice industry, it is clear her keen eye for aesthetics has come in handy when branding her business. The bright, airy and wholesome design of the venue aligns perfectly with Naturaw’s healthy mindset, not to mention that the smoothie bowls and baked goods on offer wouldn’t be amiss in any food blogger’s photography collection. The best part is that there isn’t a single sneaky ingredient in their food or juices that shouldn’t be there or isn’t beneficial to their customers, which, Nguyen explains, can also be a common problem with products that claim to be good for your health.
“It can be hard to know what foods are legitimately good for you and which ones contain hidden ingredients that can actually do damage. That’s why we choose fruits and vegetables that are certified by Global GAP and non-GMO for our juices.”
Although Naturaw supports local suppliers as much as they can, some of the components in their juices or smoothies are a little more difficult to find in Vietnam, as the healthy foods movement is still very much in its infancy here. With ingredients that can be slightly nightmarish to pronounce for those unversed in the latest health trends, organic super-food powders such as baobab or lucuma have to be imported from the UK, as do the more exotic organic snacks like goji berries and white mulberries. “These ingredients are still relatively new to the Vietnamese so we had a little difficulty at first with educating customers and getting them familiarised with these new products. That being said, we pride ourselves on trying to be innovative and being the first to introduce healthy and nutritious products to our customers.”
Despite the initial hurdles, after two years of operating, Naturaw is way out ahead at the forefront of the health revolution that’s slowly, but surely sparking amongst Vietnam’s youth, and the growing popularity of the juice shop is a sign of good things to come for both the city and its residents.
Check in for a juice detox at Naturaw at 55 Phan Chu Trinh, Hanoi.