Tuesday, March 2 2021


Luk Lak offers the best of regional food

Update: October, 08/2017 - 09:00
Nourishing: Brown rice and chicken roasted Tú Lệ style. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
Viet Nam News

by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

Luk Lak is a name to add to the trendy area around the Opera House, Museum of History and  the French cultural hub, L’Espace.

Located on Lê Thánh Tông Street facing the magnificent Hà Nội University of Pharmacy, Luk Lak is in the upper scale of dining.

The restaurant puts diners at ease the moment they step through the doors. This is achieved by lush green climbing plants, tropical trees and a green turquoise enamelled greeting wall.

The restaurant has the freshness of a resort. Adorning its walls are oil paintings of the Vietnamese countryside by local artists.

Could be better: Spring rolls have not quite nailed it. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà

Luk Lak it out of the ordinary. It offers delicacies hand-picked from different regions of the nation..

I went as part of a big group and was therefore able to try most of the dishes on the menu - all of them rather special.

For starters, we chose banana-flower salad and jicama salad. Banana and chicken salad (Nộm hoa chuối gà xé phay for VNĐ129,000) is a popular traditional dish, but Luk Lak offers one of the best.

The jicama salad, Nộm Bạch Tuyết forVNĐ99,000, is a nice little surprise for diners who prefer a fresh, crispy, sour-sweet dish.

For main course, we chose brown sticky rice (Xôi nếp cái hoa vàng forVNĐ30,000) with honey roasted chicken (Gà nướng Tú Lệ forVNĐ359,000).

The black rice accompanied roast pork Sa Pa style (Thịt lợn nướng Sa Pa for VNĐ199,000) can only be ordered with meat. You can’t try it alone as a vegetarian side dish. 

Fresh: Creative jicama salad is full of taste. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
The unpolished, brown - or black - sticky rice is grown in terraces in the mountains of Tú Lệ. There is a little challenge for diners who must actually chew into the firm grain. It’s said to be good for your health.

In the traditional cooking of Việt Nam, you’ll often see sticky rice accompany chicken, either boiled, as in offerings to the ancestors, or with roast chicken, as restaurants prefer.

Either way, the combination tastes wonderful. Until recently, cooks in the centre and the south of the country, where roasting and deep frying are more popular than the boring northern boiled fare, even wrap steamed sticky rice around a marinated chicken and fry the whole thing. Needless to say just how good it tastes when the chicken juice meets the rice.

Luk Lak’s roast chicken tastes quite good, but it’s quite dry. It’s presented on a bed of beautiful green banana leaves which cools the meat down fast.

The first time we went to Luk Lak a couple of months ago, we had a well cooked hot pot of escargots stewed with roast tofu and green banana chops (Ốc nấu chuối đậu for VNĐ149,000). The sour taste of this dish comes from marinated rice, which is eaten with fresh bún rice noodle and a garden mix of lettuce, purple basil, Vietnamese balm and a few slices of banana flower.

Vietnamese love everything from the banana: flowers for salad and side dishes, banana trunks for salad, banana leaves for wrapping, banana roots for escargot and eel stews. Dried banana leaves are also the only wrappings for gai and gấc cakes.

Budget fare: Escargot stew with tofu and green banana fruit. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà

One of the delicacies featured on the well stocked menu is a knock-out dish of escargot noodle (bún ốc for VNĐ59,000), from Khương Thượng Village in Hà Nôi’s Đống Đa District. Sold in villages at traditional food stalls with knee-high pastic stools, this is a favourite dish for many people.

But serving it in a restaurant is an achievement because a bowl of escargot noodle cannot be marked up too high, despite the fastidious preparation. I can tell if the same cook is still working at the restaurant by just tasting the broth. It’s a day dish, meaning just for breakfast or lunch.

The dessert list at Luk Lak offers some of Hà Nội’s signature sweet fare including lotus seed with dried longan fruit, tree jelly or grapefruit sweet broth with mung bean (between VNĐ30,000- 45,000). They are all good, but almost too tempting for weight watchers. — VNS

Luk Lak, Vietnamese Restaurant

Address: 4A Lê Thánh Tông, Hà Nội

Time: 7:00-23:00

Tel: 094-314-3686

Comment: Vietnamese delicacies in fine setting

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