FEAST FOR THE EYES AND MOUTH: River catfish salad, a refreshing appetiser at the restaurant.VNS Photos Minh Thu
It took 30 minutes to get from Ha Noi's Old Quarter to get Hương Quê Culinary Garden. Crossing the Vĩnh Tuy Bridge spanning the Red River, we left the noise of the city behind. Far from the heart of the city, the restaurant offers a spacious and green place to hang out.
It’s an ideal place for meetings or anniversaries and families often choose the restaurant to relax at the weekend as children can enjoy the colourful play zone while waiting for a feast.
Hương Quê literally means the fragrance of the countryside. It’s located in a new urban area on the outskirts of Hà Nội. The restaurant still preserves the peaceful atmosphere of the country with old trees, a garden of fruit trees and a lake of koi fish and swans. The dining tables are arranged in the bungalows by the lake. There are many private rooms suitable for meetings of families and groups of friends.
YUM: Sticky rice with pigeon, one of the must-try delicacies at the restaurant.
The restaurant has a rich menu of Vietnamese, Asian and Western delicacies. As a familiar customer of the restaurant, I think its strong point is the traditional food from across Viet Nam. Thanks to the diverse menu, there's bound to be something for everyone.
I chose cá lăng (river catfish) salad as a refreshing appetiser. The dish is a balance of sour and sweet taste. The slices of river catfish are steamed before being mixed with onions and aromatic herbs. The dish is decorated impressively with a turnip dyed in beetroot juice, making it look like a lotus. The catfish is tender and sweet. The onion slices are dipped in water for hours so they were not bitter, smelly nor tear-inducing.
You can visit the tank and choose a living catfish weighing 3-5kg. Depending on your order, the chefs can make it into three-five dishes.
BEAUTIFUL SPACE: Hương Quê Garden Restaurant is located in a 2,000sq.m area of lake, garden and bungalows.
My favourite is catfish casserole in a clay pot with turmeric tofu, banana and pork. A candle burns under the pot to keep it warm during the meal.
Another top dish is pigeon sticky rice. The pigeon meat is deboned and minced and stir-fried with spices, then it’s stuffed into the steamed sticky rice. Then the pack is deep-fried in oil, meaning from the outside, the scorched glutinous rice is brown and softly crunchy while the rice inside is still soft and sticky. The pigeon meat is well-marinated and salty.
The menu of 200 different delicacies would take many pages to describe, so perhaps the best way to find out is to come and try. For my family, the restaurant is a familiar place to indulge in food and enjoy the relaxing space. VNS