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Sample Tet classics at Mangosteen

Update: February, 15/2015 - 17:32
Fresh flavour: Fried spring rolls with minced pork and local herbs. — VNS Photos Hoang Ha

This Ha Noi restaurant is offering a special menu of dishes traditionally prepared to welcome the Lunar New Year. Ha Nguyen reports.

When holidays roll around, many hotel restaurants in the capital advertise extravagant Western fare. However, chef Chu Hoang Hiep at the Movenpick Hotel's Mangosteen Restaurant has created a menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes for Tet, Lunar New Year, which falls on February 19 this year.

"Overseas Vietnamese can feel at home while foreign guests have a good opportunity to discover the most delicious Vietnamese dishes and compare them to those of other countries in the world, such as France," he said.

Appetisers include homemade pickles and kohlrabi salad with shredded dried beef, as well as fried spring rolls with minced pork and local herbs such as famous Lang basil, coriander and fragrant knotweed.

Sweet touch:Passion fruit creme brulee.

My overseas Vietnamese friend Duong Le Man, who lives in Canada, said Hiep cooked fried spring rolls almost as well as her 80-year old mother.

"They're delicious, particularly with Lang basil," Man said, adding that when she cooked the spring rolls at home in Canada, the lack of Vietnamese herbs made the dish much less flavourful.

While Man praised the spring rolls, we turned to our seafood soup, a thick broth with shredded mushrooms, diced seafood, ginger, eggs and chilies. The mushroom and ginger were particularly fragrant.

After that, our main courses arrived. They included deep-fried prawn coated in young sticky rice; steamed chicken rolls with ginger and lemongrass; fried Chinese cabbage with scallops and mushrooms; and canh nam moc, clear broth with mushroom, meatballs and a hint of spring onion.

Sophisticated: Mangosteen Restaurant, located in downtown Ha Noi.

I enjoyed the Chinese cabbage most for its garlicky tenderness while Man said the prawn, fragrant with sticky rice, made her remember 30 years ago when she still lived in the country.

Mangosteen Restaurant

Address: 83A Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi.

Tel: 04 - 3822 2800

Hour: 6am-11pm

Price: VND420,000/net per person

Comment: Authentic Tet dishes

Man's Canadian husband echoed her praise of the traditional flavours.

"Although I enjoyed banh chung (square glutinous rice cake) last Tet at our home in Canada, the cake here is more enjoyable because it is wrapped in dong leaves, scientifically called Phrynium placentarium, the specific trait of Viet Nam," he said.

We finished our main courses by ladling canh nam moc over steamed rice, a tradition that is supposed to help cool the body after eating.

Then we turned to dessert. Man said she was afraid of being fat, but she couldn't resist the passion fruit creme brulee and lime sorbet with lotus, ginger, coconuts and peanuts.

If the menu gets a good reception, chef Hiep plans to serve other traditional Vietnamese dishes.

The Vietnamese Tet set menu costs VND420,000 ++ per person. It will be available from February 16-27. — VNS

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