Behind the Name: Calgary's Foreign Concept

How chef Duncan Ly's first restaurant got its name

Since opening its doors in late 2016, chef Duncan Ly's Foreign Concept has become a go-to for Calgarians seeking interesting Pan-Asian cuisine. Combining his Vietnamese roots with his chef de cuisine Hyungjae Lim’s Korean roots, they have created a dynamic fusion menu that celebrates their respective cultures and family roots.

Prior to becoming recognized as one of Calgary's top chefs, Ly cut his teeth at the famed Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, Diva at the Met in Vancouver as well as the Calgary's Catch (now closed). From there, he became the executive chef of Hotel Arts and Kensington Riverside Inn (now Hotel Arts Kensington) and during this time of his career, he won many culinary competitions in Calgary and beyond.


A post shared by Duncan Ly (@chefdly)

When it comes to his flagship eatery, Foreign Concept, the name refers to the chef's approach to Asian cuisine–which obviously draws inspiration from countries other than Canada. It also has a double meaning as the dishes on his menu are not traditional per se. Furthermore, they add their own unique layers and twists that a diner typically would not see at a more traditional Asian restaurant.

Two other names were considered: La Vong and Carts & Crane. The first would have been a collective ode to the famous street and signature dish found in Hanoi, Vietnam (cha ca la vong) and the chef's menu being rooted in French technique. The latter would have seen the restaurant itself adding dim sum or snack carts to its chosen concept.

While the current lockdown persists, Foreign Concept is open Tuesday to Sunday from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for curbside pickup and takeout.