BASKET OF TREATS: Steamed pork with crab roe dumplings. VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
By Thúy Hằng
After nearly 30 years of winning over gourmands in HCM City, famous Chinese restaurant chain Ngân Đình has now arrived in Hà Nội to present its quintessential Cantonese cuisine - one of four famous cuisines in China.
On the second floor of the Hanoi Daewoo Hotel, one of the first 5-star hotels to open in Hà Nội in the 1990s - Ngân Đình has been indulging the taste buds of local connoisseurs for a mere two weeks. My friends and I were fortunate enough to be among its first guests.
We were seated in a VIP room with three large round tables that can seat 10 people each. Unlike many other Chinese restaurants, which use red as the predominant colour palette, the VIP rooms at Ngân Đình Hà Nội are decorated with a few feng shui landscape paintings. The only red I saw was the uniforms of the wait staff. On my next trip, with some of my friends, I think I’d prefer to sit in the restaurant’s cosy yet elegant main area, where my eyes can feast upon the gorgeous white marble staircase.
ALL HANDS ON DECK: Waitresses prepare the Roasted Beijing Duck. VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
We decided on the set menu of eight courses, but there were actually 11 - all popular in Cantonese cuisine.
Our dinner started when the waitresses poured tea into every tea cup on the table - a “ritual” at any Chinese meal. Shortly after, the staff brought out three types of dim sum, including steamed shrimp dumplings, steamed pork with crab roe dumplings, and deep-fried shrimp wrapped in bean curd skin.
Engrossed in conversation with a friend sitting next to me, who I hadn’t seen since the pre-COVID-19 days of March, I only got to try two of the dim sum, but liked them both. While the shrimp retained its slightly crunchy texture - a sign of freshness - the crab roe dumplings were quite delightful. I like the small crackling sound made when my teeth bit into the tiny red roe.
Then came the Double Boiled Chicken with Lotus Seeds and Cordyceps Flower.
According to Executive Chef Li Suen Wai, who has more than 20 years of experience in gastronomy, the nutritious soup using lotus seeds and cordyceps flowers (which is actually a species of fungus) has many medicinal virtues, including in beauty. The women around the table were excited to hear this. My male friend sitting next to me gallantly offered me his share. “Women need it more than me,” he joked.
The soup was okay, and just the idea that it had some beauty effects gave it some extra flavour, real or imagined. I finished two bowls, and crossed my fingers that I’d see some results.
The atmosphere in the room stirred when the waitresses set up a table to prepare the Roasted Beijing Duck.
Skilfully and quickly, they sliced the shiny golden duck skin and rolled it together with small cucumber, some fresh spring onion, and a touch of a thick brown sauce. The roll tasted slightly sweet and was surprisingly rich in flavour. I can understand why in days long gone this delicacy was served only to Chinese Emperors.
Our main course was Pan-fried American beef with black pepper sauce, which also included green and red bell peppers (capsicum). The beef was tender and aromatic, thanks to the black pepper. But after trying some small pieces of beef, I went for the bell peppers, as I prefer vegetables more so than meat.
TWIN TASTES: Grouper in two styles. VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
The next course was grouper in two styles - Steamed Fish Fillet in Hong Kong Style, and Deep-fried Fish Bone with Salt and Pepper.
While the steamed dish emboldened the natural sweetness of the fish, the deep-fried fish bone was something of a surprise. I’d actually never tried it before. While I’d envisioned that the bone would be finely chopped and perfectly edible, I found myself digging around in search of larger bones. Except for this, though, the dish was aromatic, as the chef used a lot of chopped garlic and chilli.
VEGE OPTION: Steamed Green Vegetables with Conpoy in a Bamboo Basket. VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
After several meat and fish dishes, I was happy to see the Steamed Green Vegetables with Conpoy in a Bamboo Basket arrive at the table. The vegetables were steamed to perfection, while retaining their green colour and slight crunch.
My hunger had well and truly been satiated by the time the waitresses served the Fried Rice with Shrimps, Scallops, and Egg Whites, so I didn’t have a taste. The small amount of room left in my stomach was for dessert - a mango sago pudding that didn’t disappoint. The slightly sweet and creamy pudding was a great way to wrap up our dinner. VNS
Ngân Đình Chinese Restaurant - Hanoi Daewoo Hotel
Address: 360 Kim Mã Street, Ba Đình District, Hà Nội
Tel: +84 24 3831 5000
Price: From VNĐ58,000 to VNĐ2,888,000
Comments: Elegant setting, diverse menu with a large selection of dim sum, signature Cantonese dishes, and several seafood dishes such as lobster, crab, mantis prawns, and king prawns.