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Try interesting local fare at Wild Lotus

Update: January, 02/2012 - 17:09

 

Romantic setting: The main room on the first floor.
Well presented: Grilled fish tikka in pandanus leaves with tartare and sweet chilly sauce.
Seafood galore: Shrimp with tamarind sauce.

Wild Lotus

Address: 55A Nguyen Du St, Ha Noi

Tel: (04) 3822 6917 / (04) 3943 9342 / 0904 909 049

Hours: 9am till midnight

Price: from US$10.5 – 12.8

Comment: Reasonably priced selection of tasty Vietnamese and Asian dishes in a romantic setting.

 
Nguyen Du Street in Ha Noi is not only famous for its milk flowers, but also because it is the location for Da Lien (Wild Lotus) Restaurant. Hoang Hoang reportsAs we sweated through the first heatwave of summer in the capital city, we decided we needed an escape. The three-storied Wild Lotus, near Thien Quang Lake in downtown Ha Noi, is known for its unique design, dark brown colour, open-air dining room and fresh salads. It seemed like just the place for dinner or lunch.

What we got was the dining equivalent of a spa: refreshing dishes, attentive service and a peaceful environment as well as different kinds of musical performances.

Entering the restaurant we passed through a small "stream" with its surface scattered with small lotus flowers. Up the wide and high stairs, we saw a picture of a great Buddha statue, which is respectfully placed in the middle of a "pond" surrounded by pink lotuses.

We saw lotuses, both live or in pictures, everywhere in the restaurant which helped to make it more Vietnamese.

We were impressed by Wild Lotus's decor, both brand-new and traditional and the setting provided a soothing backdrop to our meal, with shades of blue dominating, right down to the salt and pepper shakers and tablecloths, and an Asian influence evident in the wood and tile decorations and calligraphy adorning the walls and pillars.

In addition to enjoying the tasteful interior, customers at the Wild Lotus could have a chance to enjoy a romantic view of bustling Ha Noi at Thien Quang Lake, Thong Nhat Park, and its surrounding areas where people come to relax during summer and pedestrians walk around the peaceful lake, talking together.

Glancing over the drink menu, I noted a wide selection of international wines and beers, but I opted instead for an ice-cold mango juice in true Vietnamese style.

After we ordered, we sampled tasty shrimp, squid and mussel with carrot, celery and leek until our entrees came.

Next we moved on to the main attractions, including grilled chicken with lemon leaves. Though we eat this dish at home often, we were impressed by the Wild Lotus version, with its freshness and high-quality ingredients.

The meat had been trimmed of all the unpleasant fat that seems to be prized by hardened Vietnamese diners.

One of my friends ordered a prawn salad which included lettuce, julienne cucumber and prawns, served with lemon olive sauce. This came as a relief after various traumatic experiences we'd had in traditional Vietnamese eateries, involving cold tofu, but chef Nguyen Hai Nam suggested we taste the Wild Lotus speciality: fish rolled in fragrant leaves with chilly sauce.

Nam said all ingredients for the dish at the Wild Lotus had been ordered from prestigious firms inside and outside the country.

"We aim to give diners tasty Vietnamese dishes," Hai said.

My Viet kieu friend from the US, Nguyen Van Binh, said he would invite his family to the restaurant next month.

"It is really delicious and more tasty than I've ever eaten before," he said

 

Popular dish: Grilled chicken with lemon leaves.
 
For dessert, a platter arrived heaped with fruit, including dragon fruit, papaya, rambuttan and watermelon, laid alongside western cakes such as creamy tapioca pudding and sponge cake with chocolate sauce, which we were particularly impressed with, considering how difficult it is to find tasty chocolate products of any description in Viet Nam.

We were given heaped dishes of condiments, our drinks were refilled 10 times over, all in all the experience was soothing and pleasant, almost like an afternoon at a spa.

The Wild Lotus has a variety of Asian dishes but it can cater to foreigners' tastes.

Though our limited appetites kept us from trying more items on the menu, the options were extensive, with flavours of the land and sea available in a variety of preparations.

For a first course, from US$15,5 to $20, diners can enjoy genuine Vietnamese dishes such as abalone with mushroom soup, crab and asparagus soup, scallop salad and jelly fish and chicken salad.

Those interested in salad, snacks and Asian noodles can try grilled scallops on a mixed green salad, served with honey balsamic dressing.

On our visit, any culinary shortcomings were more than compensated for by the wide selection of menu options, serene atmosphere and friendly, attentive staff.

Nguyen Tuan Ngoc, the manager, told us that his restaurant welcomed hundreds of guests from the US, UK, Japan and ASEAN countries every year.

Before leaving some of my foreign friends told manager Ngoc that they would bring their friends to enjoy real Vietnamese dishes at the restaurant, a perfect venue for a party of up to 200 guests. — VNS

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