PERFECTION ON A PLATE: Grilled Australian beef tenderloin served with mashed potatoes, pumpkin puree, asparagus, carrots, and black pepper sauce. VNS Photo Ngô Minh
Sitting on the ninth floor of the La Siesta Hotel in the heart of Hà Nội, Cloud Nine Restaurant boasts sensational views over the centre of the capital. The main colour palette is black and white, but unlike the rest of the hotel, large windows let light stream in. The food and service are both excellent, and while it’s not cheap it’s definitely worth your while.
I have walked along Hàng Bè Street many times but never seen any sign of Cloud Nine. La Siesta is a boutique hotel for foreign tourists, and the restaurant was especially popular among in-house guests. The damage inflicted on the tourism industry by COVID-19 saw both the hotel and restaurant become deserted. Undeterred, the owners designed a new menu with set lunch options suitable for local people and expats.
The decor is undoubtedly chic, with a hint of French and a wonderful Asian style and finesse. It serves a fusion of Vietnamese and Western food, and the set I ordered featured both local and European dishes prepared and presented in a fine-dining style.
The cream of sweet potato and prawn soup was a lovely way to start. It had a graceful appearance, with a custard-yellow hue. While the thick soup clung to the spoon, the sweetness of the sweet potato lingered on the lips. It was less sweet than cream of pumpkin soup.
TOP-NOTCH: Coconut core salad, a refreshing mix of coconut core, prawns, peanuts, and aromatic herbs. VNS Photo Ngô Minh
Then came the củ hũ dừa (coconut core) salad, a popular delicacy in Việt Nam’s south. Coconut core is the 'heart', the flesh of the coconut tree, and is found at the very top, hidden among branches. When you remove the layers of a coconut tree's skin, you will find the coconut core. It’s white, sweet, fresh, cool, crunchy, and highly nutritious. Strips of coconut core, carrots, and red cabbage mixed with peanuts gave the salad a sense of refreshment. The dressing was a mixture of sweet and sour. Everything in the salad was well marinated, so was spicy and crunchy. The harmonious combination of different vegetables also gave it a burst of colour.
INTRIGUING: Matcha cream brulee with vanilla ice cream. VNS Photo Ngô Minh
The main was Grilled Australian beef tenderloin, served with mashed potatoes, pumpkin puree, asparagus, carrots, and black pepper sauce. It was a lean cut with comparatively little fat, or marbling, which makes a cut of beef moist and flavourful. The portion was 180 grams. The presentation was eye-catching, with yellow from the potato, green from the asparagus and cucumber, orange from the pumpkin, and the black from the sauce. The “medium rare” was perfectly cooked on the outside while preserving the juices and softness inside. It was extremely tender, with an almost buttery texture.
I felt full and wasn’t sure about dessert, but when it came I was fascinated by the matcha cream covered by cream brulee. A caramelised sugar layer covered the matcha cream, and the vanilla ice cream was cool in more ways than one.
The atmosphere was elegant, the food exquisite, and the service impeccable. Everything chimed, and I highly recommend you find the time to pay a visit, given how great the food is and how spectacular the view is. VNS
FOOD & FLAIR: Cloud Nine offers fine dining in a chic space. Photo courtesy of the restaurant
Cloud Nine Restaurant
Add: 27 Hàng Bè St., Hoàn Kiếm Dist., Hà Nội
Tel: 0914 680 406; (024) 3929 0011
Comments: Located on the 9th floor and encased in floor-to-ceiling windows offering 360-degree views across Hoàn Kiếm Lake and the Red River, Cloud Nine offers fine dining with a fusion of local and European cuisine.