Wednesday, November 22 2017

VietNamNews

Celebrity chef rolls Việt Nam into one

Update: October, 22/2017 - 09:00
Old charm: The new Vietnam House recalls the charm of the storied street corner, but introduces a new generation to Vietnamese food at its finest. – VNS photos Anh Duy
Viet Nam News

Vietnamese-Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyễn’s sublime interpretation of traditional Vietnamese cuisine is attracting diners back to Vietnam House restaurant, long revered for its elegant ambience. Mỹ Duyên reports.

Hà Nội, Huế and Sài Gòn all have varying versions of the country’s most well-known dish: phở (beef noodle soup). But it’s rare that you can sample one, two or all three at the same restaurant, and particularly at one that excels at fine dining, such as Vietnam House.     

Located at the storied corner of Đồng Khởi and Mạc Thị Bưởi Streets in the heart of HCM City, the restored colonial building housed the famed Café L’Imperial in the early 1900s and was a popular destination for the city’s affluent.

Though I had visited Vietnam House in the past for lunch with business partners, the newly renovated upscale space truly surprised me.

Dining was at the highest level with world-class service delivering the best of Vietnamese gastronomy. Dressed in a modern style of the country’s traditional costume, waiters and waitresses served us in a setting vibrant with blues and greens complemented by wooden accents on walls and ceilings.

Vietnamese-Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyễn’s unique presentations of classic dishes from the north to south are based on his experience and knowledge travelling through Việt Nam.

Nguyễn and his culinary team scour local markets daily to ensure only the freshest fruits and vegetables are used for its curated menu of the country’s favourite dishes and signature flavours, elegantly prepared and presented in a modern style.

Aside from executive set menus for lunch and dinner, the restaurant also has a special menu for vegetarians with prices starting from VNĐ78,000.  

Inspired choices

On the main menu, lobster spring rolls and soft-shell crab and green mango salad are two of the outstanding starters, while main dishes include charcoal-grilled honey-glazed whole pigeon; grilled lobster with black pepper sauce and sautéed green asparagus; XO garoupa fillet grilled in banana leaf; and phở or wagyu-beef noodle soup.

Fit for a king: Whole lobster char-grilled with Phú Quốc green pepper sauce and sautéed asparagus is a must-try.
Must try: Lobster netted spring rolls are a true delicacy at Vietnam House.
Signature: Char-grilled wagyu beef wrapped with betel leaf, served with angel-hair vermicelli and herbs is one of the signature recipes from chef Luke Nguyễn.
Silken: Home-made soya bean curd, an authentic southern sweet that diners should not miss.

As a lover of “wrap and roll” items, I ordered salmon fresh spring rolls (VNĐ168,000) and lobster netted spring rolls (VNĐ258,000). What a difference from the traditional style: sesame-seed seared salmon rolls served with green mango dill and salmon caviar, as well a sauce made of peanut and soya bean paste.

While I preferred the salmon roll, my children thought the deep-fried lobster rolls were the best they had ever had.

When my family dines out, we rarely eat rice, but the restaurant offers a tamarind and pineapple fish rice soup done in a Mekong Delta style, seafood fried rice, green fried rice with chicken and wok-tossed Thiên Lý flowers.

We chose bò nướng lá lốt (grilled wagyu beef wrapped with betel leaf VNĐ 268,000), an authentic dish with angel-hair vermicelli and fresh herbs, with a special house-made sauce. Well marinated, the beef had a wonderful taste and aroma thanks to the tender and juicy meat imported from Australia.

We then treated ourselves with the must-try dish at Vietnam House, a southern speciality: lobster grilled with Phú Quốc green pepper sauce and sautéed green asparagus (VNĐ 388,000/100 grams). 

Though the sauce was a bit too salty for me, the fresh lobster was beautifully prepared and the sautéed asparagus helped balance the taste. “Spicy, but so yummy, mum!” was the verdict from my kids.  

The dessert menu is somewhat limited, but the choices are some of the most popular in Vietnamese cuisine. I sampled đậu hủ nước cốt dừa bột báng truyền thống (house-made soya bean curd served with warm ginger syrup and condensed sweet coconut milk with tapioca; VNĐ98,000).

The pride of Vietnam House’s cooking team, the treat, was delicious and is one of the restaurant’s best sellers. The silken bean curd, served with coconut milk and warm syrup, was pleasantly fragrant and not as sweet as others I have tried.

The authentic southern sweet was my favourite snack when I was a child. It’s a dish not to be missed.   

To end their meal, my kids chose the excellent pandan creme brulee (VNĐ 168,000), postponing other favourites like Vietnamese coffee flan and lemon meringue tart for our next visit. VNS

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Vietnam House Restaurant 

Address: 93-97 Đồng Khởi Street, District 1

Phone: (028) 38 222226

Hours: 11am - 11pm last order

Comment: authentic Vietnamese cuisine with modern flair served in a spectacular setting, cosy ambience and refined hospitality

 

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