Updated  
May, 04 2014 17:28:19

Serving up Cicchetti with a stunning view

Feast for the eyes: The restaurant looks out across the Amiana resort's freshwater infinity pool.

by David Mann

With an abundance of attractive destinations lighting the tourist trail along Vietnam's coastline, the market for beachside holidays has become fiercely competitive. As a result, holiday-makers are faced with an almost impossible choice of heavenly hotspots vying for a slice of the country's growing tourism market. Nha Trang, on the nation's southeast coastline, is no exception.

Many choose Nha Trang as a safe middle ground between the country's southern and central regions, and for good reason. With its tropical climate and cluster of pulsing nightlife venues, it has been a reliable party destination for years. But as is the case with popular food and tourist haunts, when something has been on the menu for a while it begins to feel a bit stale.

That is why it's always good to see a newcomer throw a well-crafted spanner into the hospitality scene. The latest contender is Bacaro, perched on the very tip of Turtle Bay and offering spectacular panoramic views from Nha Trang's latest five-star resort, the Amiana.

Celebrating its first anniversary last month, the venue is already well renowned for its luxurious beach-side villas, idyllic grounds and, of course, its destination dining. The restaurant has been especially well received by travellers wanting to sample local and international cuisine away from the hustle and bustle of the city's main tourist thoroughfares.

Of an evening, both guests and walk-ins can be seen savouring unrivalled sunset views from LB's Bar before indulging in the restaurant's exotic fare. The only noise you can hear is the rustle of fresh sea-air through palm leaves and the occasional sampan fishing boat chugging by.

Looking good: The hummus with spicy lamb cutlet- combination of garbanzo bean mash and a succulent harissa-seasoned lamb cutlet (VND120,000).

The concept of the restaurant is to offer a mix of Italian Ciccetti (a kind of Italian tapas) and a la carte dining. However, the restaurant is also branching out into themed buffet nights, where diners can sample an mixture of local specialties or Italian cuisine for around VND350,000 per person. On the night we visited, the "Nha Trang Market" buffet featured a sumptuous selection of local specialties including a home-style Nha Trang claypot, freshly made banh cuon and banh xeo.

The restaurant itself is positioned looking out across the five-star resort's freshwater infinity pool, making the most of balmy ocean breezes that flow through the open-air layout. Hand-selected coconut tree trunks are used as elegant ceiling pillars while the wooden fans have been carved into the shapes of coconut leaves. In essence, the design is an artistic blend of contemporary and natural elements all intended to help you feel relaxed and at home among nature.

Bacaro offers a modern take on traditional cicchetti, usually comprised of small sandwiches and cured meats. The chefs have worked under the tutelage of some of Viet Nam's top culinary performers - and it shows with each delicious plate served.

Local specialty: The "Nha Trang Market" buffet features a sumptuous selection of local specialties including a home-style Nha Trang claypot and freshly made banh xeo.

Dishes range from the Black Angus beef tartar with quail egg and forest mushrooms (VND110,000) to the more traditional bruschetta calabria served with cherry tomatoes, olives and goat cheese crumble (VND110,000). A particular favourite was the hummus with spicy lamb cutlet served with garbanzo bean mash and rubbed with a generous blend of harissa (VND120,000). The lamb was fresh, seared to a perfect medium-rare - itself a rare feat in Viet Nam - and complimented perfectly by the garlic flavours and subtle textures of the hummus.

In keeping with Nha Trang's specialty, the restaurant also offers a rich selection of barbequed seafood plucked daily from the surrounding waters. We recommend the black tiger prawns (VND120,000 per 100 grams) and the succulent bay scallops wrapped in pancetta with tomato mango salsa (VND140,000). Visitors can also sample the restaurant's own Amiana cured salmon with orange balsamic pickled beetroot, served with rocket and parmigiano (VND150,000).

Bacaro

Address: Turtle Bay, Pham Van Dong Str, Nha Trang

Ph: (+84 58) 355 3333

Website: http://www.amiana.com.vn/

Price range: VND80,000-450,000

Comments: Destination dining at its best

Opening Hours: Dinner 18:00 - 22:00 Lunch 12:00 - 15:00

For those with a sweet tooth, it's hard to be disappointed with the selection of cheesecakes, tarts and flavoured tiramisus. If you have to choose one, go for the Australian blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake (VND80,000).

An international wine and cocktail list is also on hand to compliment the vast selection of dishes. Our bottle of New Zealand Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc came recommended by the waiter and was perfectly suited to our choice of food. And while the cocktail list is comprehensive, outside requests are also welcome and charged at a reasonable VND110,000. I was particularly surprised when my Manhattan Sidecar, which wasn't on the menu, arrived looking and tasting exactly as I had wanted.

Maybe it was the cocktail, maybe it was the idyllic location, but either way it was nearly impossible to leave. And while Nha Trang's party strip will always have its charms, it's nice to know there is somewhere to escape to. Needless to say, we'll definitely be heading back soon. — VNS

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