Viet Nam News
By Mộc Miên
For a professional that often entertains partners and conducts business conversations around the dinner table, it is important I choose a restaurant with an atmosphere that helps me create a positive impression because it eventually influences the quality of the collaboration with my partners.
Located on Xuân Diệu Street, near West Lake, the VinSteak restaurant has become my latest favourite spot after I received a lot of positive feedback about the place from my friends and colleagues, who thought it was elegant and private.
Just off the street, the vibe at VinSteak when one walks in through the first floor door is cozy and friendly. The second floor, and especially the restaurant’s wine cellar, is exactly how my friends described it.
Countless wine bottles of different prices are stored on the wooden shelves covering almost the entire wall area. This great selection means every customer at the restaurant can enjoy a bottle of wine that satiates their taste buds. Despite being a restaurant that serves European cuisine, the interiors -- tables in dark colours such as brown and cobalt blue -- are inspired by the elegance and aesthetic sophistication of Asian people.
I decided to go to the wine cellar for lunch because I wanted to have an enjoyable experience with my partner. We chose a quiet corner and enjoyed the cozy lighting and the relaxing fragrance of the wooden shelves. I was completely satisfied with my first impression of VinSteak; a restaurant with a fresh aroma, instead of the smells of food, like the other old and new restaurants I had visited in the past.
Simple yet subtle: An impressive beefsteak made from a flavourful and juicy beef, tart refreshing red wine sauce and buttery potato gratin. VNS Photo Mộc Miên
While browsing through the menu, we were slightly confused by the comprehensive list of drinks, and so the restaurant staff suggested a Chilean wine series – Montes Alpha. There were numerous choices within this much-sought after wine series, such as Cabernet Saugvinon, Marlbec, Syrah or Merlot. Finally, Cabernet Saugvinon – the red grape variety that has its ceremony day on August 30 – was chosen because the date coincided with the date we visited the restaurant.
We ordered the salmon cake as a starter, even though it was not included in the set lunch menu; it, however, triggered a sense of curiosity in me. It was made of minced salmon with Asian herbs and was grilled and served with mango salsa and a sweet and sour sauce. The salsa sauce, a secret recipe of the chef’s, impressed me tremendously. The salmon was masterfully handled – there was no fishy smell and the fish remained soft but not crumbly, moist but not raw -- its fine taste aroused my taste buds slowly yet deeply.
My partner, Minako Handa, is a typical Japanese woman with considerate and sophisticated table manners, carefully selecting each dish. She was happy with the sweet and sour salsa sauce, which went perfectly with the salmon cake.
“Such a small starter can leave such a lasting impression. Most importantly, it was just the right quantity, perfect for a starter, wasn’t it?” she giggled.
Our main course of the day was, of course, beefsteak, the restaurant’s signature dish. We ordered Aussie Rib Eye served with potato gratin and a red wine sauce; the only difference was that I chose a piece of Australian beef with sinew and some fat while Minako chose a more tender, leaner piece of American beef. We both fell in love with the red wine sauce, which had a very subtle flavour. Like the classic recipe, the beef was marinated with just salt and pepper and brushed with rosemary garlic butter when being grilled. However, the beefsteak, despite the simple recipe, fascinated us with its harmonious taste and flavours. I also realized that full-bodied Cabernet Saugvinon, with its intense ruby colour, brought a great complexity to the flavour, infusing both the Asian herbs and the sophisticated European style of cooking. Our selection was perfect because it brought the perfect balance to our meal.
I was particularly excited with the potato gratin in the main course: a combination of full cream milk and cheese spread between paper-thin potato slices and baked in the oven. It had a distinctive taste, unlike any traditional mashed potato dish. I had just one tiny regret. If I had ordered the American beefsteak like Minako, my main course could have been even more perfect. On the whole, while all the different flavours of the dish blended with each other nicely, the slightly chewy Aussie beef made me relish the dish a little less.
The last course was dessert — apple pie. Chopped green apples were stir-fried with cinnamon and raisin and then wrapped in the pie crust and baked. The pie was served with strawberry ice cream laid on a blackberry coulis and sweet crème anglaise. The pie was sweeter and had more flavour than the ice-cream. Along with the pie and the ice cream there were slices of fresh apple, which gave the dish three different levels of sweetness. I loved the crème anglaise sauce, made of egg yolk, sugar and hot milk. It had a slightly sweet and buttery taste and tasted even better with the pie.
Minako and I had a friendly conversation and enjoyed the wonderful lunch at VinSteak. She totally agreed with my choice of restaurant and said she really wanted to return to the VinSteak the next time we had an opportunity to eat out.
“I clearly experienced the familiarity and the inspiration behind this place. What a unique blend of Asian flavours with European cuisine! Thank you for inviting me to this restaurant,” she said.
Address: 7 Xuan Dieu Street, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội
Price: From VND300,000/pax for Set Lunch from Mon to Fri
Open: 10:00am – 10.30pm
Comment: An elegant, cozy and luxurious restaurant with a private atmosphere, wonderful dishes and premium-quality wines.