Quy Nhơn's beautiful beachside bistro

June, 05/2022 - 08:54

With its open-air bar, wood-fired pizza oven, affordable menu and stunning sea views, Big Tree Bistro doesn't put a foot wrong

 

FRESH AND HEALTHY: A simple green mango salad

 By CARLOS OTTERY

A dash to the picture-perfect southern seaside town of Quy Nhơn (technically a city, though you wouldn’t know it), naturally, necessitates the eating of seafood. Because who doesn’t eat seafood when they are staying by the ocean?

Within a few days, your average diner has dropped millions of đồng on a couple of lobster, hundreds of clams, a few kilos of shrimp, a bucket of crab, some oysters, sea snails, sea cucumbers and, for the adventurous, some abalone. Oh, and you will likely have some grilled fish too.

It almost goes without saying that the seafood is superb here. As fresh as you like, it’s often picked out directly from large plastic buckets on the beach and served up a few minutes later straight off the grill.

 

WOOD FIRED: A salami pizza as prepared by Big Tree Bistro

What they don’t tell you is within a few days, you will feel like you have OD’ed on the ocean’s bounty and might start to get the fear that you are going to turn into a fish.

A few days of slamming shellfish, seemingly morning, noon and night, and you will be pinning for standard fare from terra firma, say a simple salad, a pizza perhaps, or a large bowl of pasta. And this is where Big Tree Bistro comes in, to a profoundly satisfying effect.

The breezy restaurant is at the busier end of Bãi Xếp beach, which, if not the very best beach in Quy Nhơn, is certainly in the mix -- a beautifully rugged little cove jutted with reddish granite rocks at either end of the bay, a tiny fishing village on one end, and a few small coracles bobbing on the waves here and there. 

Eating at this locale, a few steps away from the golden sand with the azure sea gently lapping at the sure, is, as you might imagine, hard to beat.

Despite the spectacular views, Big Tree Bistro does not rest on its laurels. While many a beachside diner gets by on location alone, knowing full well that tourists will turn up whatever the standard of the food. Here, we didn’t have a dish that was anything other than superb (and we went twice), which was all the more remarkable as, alongside your usual Vietnamese classics, there were lots of well-made European dishes you wouldn’t expect of a small fishing village in sleepy Bình Định Province.

The pizzas were exceptional, cooked up fresh from a large wood-fired oven, a sight unusual enough in these parts that a smattering of domestic tourists were even queueing up to take selfies by the stove.

 

SEA VIEWS: The restaurant looks directly out across the bay. All photos by Nga Hoang Thanh

We opted for a margherita (VNĐ180,000) and a salami (VNĐ210,000). The bases were thin and crispy, the cheese rich, and the tomatoes fresh. If you were served these in an Italian restaurant in a large cosmopolitan city, you would not complain. They were large enough to share, though a particularly ravenous person could no doubt pack away a whole one.

The pasta hit the mark too. Simple and unflashy, both the bolognese and the beef ragu (VNĐ125,000 per dish) tasted precisely as they should, with the spaghetti slightly al dente. We also ordered a refreshing green mango salad (VNĐ80,000) on the site, which felt positively zingy and alive with its generous lashings of fresh mint, chilli, lime, peanuts and, yes, prawns.

Though it was a calm and clear day, for drinks, we settled for a dark and stormy (VNĐ65,000) or two, a spicy cocktail with local rum, ginger beer and bitters, which gave us a revitalising kick on a beautiful bright summer's day.

In short, the Big Tree Bistro is an absolute gem of a low-key fairly priced outdoor restaurant with stunning ocean views, about 10km from the city centre. Any visit to Quy Nhơn is more than worth a lazy afternoon here. And if you insist, they will even serve you up a plate of BBQ seafood too. VNS