TIPPLE: A dry martini mixed with fig juice infused syrup, dry martini, dry gin and lime. Photos courtesy of Senses Restaurant
by Minh Thu
The beautiful house in the woods with the delightful scent of food in the air reminded me of the witch’s house in the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel.
I was truly surprised to see such a nice, French-style villa deep in the forest, well-furnished inside and above all, offering delicious food.
After a long day trekking in Ba Vì National Park (60km from the city centre) through paths full of obstacles and bushes, all I needed was a place to rest and enjoy some food, because of course, my stomach was growling.
Senses Restaurant is located in an old villa nestled under the green canopies of the primary forest. When I entered the restaurant, I was struck by the classy design and decoration.
I chose a table near the window to enjoy the spectacular view over the valley of pine trees. Located at Cote 600 of Ba Vì National Park, Senses Restaurant is an ideal place to indulge in gastronomy and relaxations.
As a part of the Melia Ba Vì Mountain Retreat, it often receives in-house guests but I predict more and more will come to the restaurant thanks to the increasing number of tourists visiting the park. At 600m above the sea, it’s a wonderful option to relax and rest after discovering the area.
The restaurant is high as are the prices, reassuringly so.
YUMMY: Fig salad is a beautiful and elegant dish that's perfect for a light lunch.
Apart from the fusion of Asian and European menus, eaters can enjoy local delicacies in a fine dining style. It serves wild vegetables and grilled chicken, those raised free-range in the forest, like other local restaurants, but the dishes here are decorated and prepared in a Western style. The chefs take care with every detail.
After a day walking and playing, my kids were famished. They hurriedly ordered beef tenderloin roasted in mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. The beef is about 200-250g, so I told them to share the portion.
Our waitress Yến was very attentive and offered us double mashed potatoes for the two boys.
Then Yến suggested that I try some delicacies cooked from quả vả (fig), a speciality of the park. There are many ancient fig trees nearby the restaurant, and the fruit is harvested by hand, keeping it very fresh.
FUSION: Fig pizza, with fresh ripened figs, onions, coriander and cheese, the perfect combination of flavours.
“These dishes are seasonal though there are figs all year round, we just have to wait until the fruit ripen to harvest,” Yến said.
“It’s easy for them to be decayed and crushed, so we have to use our hands to carefully pick the fruit right when they ripen.”
I had heard figs are a super food as they help detoxify the body and are especially good for breast-feeding mothers. They're also good for skin and the digestive system.
The restaurant has a selection of dishes made up almost of figs. I decided to try fig salad first, a beautiful and elegant dish that's perfect for a light lunch.
The ingredients include fig, onion, peanut, sesame, carrot, lettuce and coriander. The fig slices were a little bitter at the first bite but they remained naturally sweet to the taste buds. The ingredients were mixed in sour and sweet sauce to wake up our taste.
The wild fig pizza is a daring culinary experiment. It’s made from slow roasted chicken, Brie cheese and fresh harvested Ba Vì figs. The cheese was baked until brown-yellow on the surface. Its scent was very charming.
Senses Restaurant is an old villa nestling under the green canopies of the primary forest. Photo courtesy of Melia Ba Vì Retreat
Yến wasn't pulling my leg about the figs. The local fruit can be used to make many dishes that masterfully massage gourmands’ taste buds.
The meal wouldn't have been complete without trying my first ever fig cocktail. The light pink fig martini is mixed from fig juice, dry martini, dry gin and lime. The charming colour and taste made the fig cuisine experience all the more interesting.
Senses Restaurant is a place where you see, touch, smell and taste your dinner. Here the culinary discovery will liven up your senses like the way the stunning mountains, sound of nature and beautiful sights do. VNS