Sainy Chun on bringing French cuisine to the forefront of Malaysia's dining scene

Close Up

February 23, 2015 | BY Tien Chew

South Korean restaurateur Sainy Chun speaks to Tien Chew about her desire to rejuvenate the French culinary scene in Malaysia with Maison Francaise.

Sainy Chun’s eventual migration to Malaysia all started when she visited the country to contribute for a project in Malacca. After playing her part and returning to South Korea, she developed a longing for a fresh start that would subsequently mark her return to Malaysia to set up shop in the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur.

She liked the fact that Malaysia was a harmonious multiracial country and wanted to make a living for herself here.

The question on how to do it didn’t require much thought for Chun, as this soft-spoken lady holds more than 15 years of F&B and hospitality experience under her belt from notable cities like France, Italy and Shanghai. Due to this, it was only natural for Chun to lean towards opening a restaurant, which she ultimately did. Maison Francaise is a French fine dining establishment that aims to reinvigorate French cuisine in KL.

“I found that there were quite a number of Italian restaurants in Kuala Lumpur but only a small number of French restaurants here,” says Chun.

In other words, she saw a gap in the market and she leapt at the opportunity. Thanks to her insight, she managed to create a popular French eatery that sees returning customers. What separates Maison Francaise from the rest of the restaurants isn’t only its good food, but also the way Chun differentiates its dining concept as opposed to the many other restaurant setups here.

“I personally don’t like to go to shopping malls or hotels when I want to have a nice dinner. In Malaysia I noticed that most of the good restaurants are either in these two locations,” says Chun. “I made Maison Francaise an independent restaurant and although it is located in the city, it is quite peaceful here.”

Tucked away in a quiet street near KLCC, the restaurant is just like the name suggests, a bungalow converted into a modern eatery. Starting a reputable business is no easy feat, yet Maison Francaise has managed to build a name for itself, witnessing the attendance of many important people in the society.

The eatery’s success is due to its consistency in delivering quality service and food, the two attributes Chun argues are of key importance. Many organisations have also taken an interest in holding events at the restaurant which is in fact another testament to her rising success. One of her proudest moments came when she organised her own charity dinner at the restaurant, raising RM100,000 for the Angels Children Home.

Despite her rising triumphs, many often forget the struggles it takes to start a business before the profit is reaped.

“One of the most difficult parts for me in Malaysia was setting up the business because I had no partner and I didn’t know anyone here,” says Chun.

In the first few months she had to pay upfront amount in cash due to the refusal to grant her credit. She also had to deal with the language barrier and the difficulty in obtaining operational license through a middle person. She eventually chose to deal with DBKL directly and is grateful to have dealt with pleasant and helpful individuals in achieving her goal.

Chun’s inspirational story is proof that success can never be achieved without diligence and determination. 


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