(Written by Him)
So what is the verdict after such rigorous experimentation???
The food is; 'grand like'.
(We say this so often it has become a running joke). While we acknowledge that we may be difficult to impress, there is no denying that we have been wholly underwhelmed since our arrival. Nevertheless, let me recap on some of the highlights:
4. Also in Da Nang we visited a restaurant famous for its clay-pot rice, in fact that is the literal translation of the restaurant's name. We both ordered a portion in mouth watering anticipation. Rice baked in its own steam in a clay-pot. If the rice had arrived on a simple plate I cant swear I would have noticed any difference
8. In Hanoi we have been making every effort to get around the food zeitgeist.... Banh mi, quintessentially Vietnamese, this street food is a mixture of French and local styles being a fresh baguette filled with the specific vendors specialty. I have had a three meat Banh Mi which included pate, very tasty (recommended), and a BBQ pork skewer style, again very acceptable.
9. Pigs trotter pho, I had high hopes for this dish having sampled fabulous trotter dishes both at home and in Paris. Disappointing. Plain boiled trotter chopped into pho. Nothing special had been done with this unique ingredient and I am quite sure I was overcharged for the pleasure (double to be exact). A bad taste left in the mouth on every level.
(Written by Her)
Fine French dining in La Verticale, hidden deep in the French Quarter. We couldn't resist the set lunch menu of 3 courses for as little as $15 per person. Just think what we would pay in France (at least that's what I was saying). He had pork belly and I had a meaty tuna steak with passion fruit sauce with a cheese plate to finish. Delicious food, a very grand French villa, polite wait staff and air conditioning = Heaven.
Again, fine french dining but this time with a Vietnamese twist. Luckily for me, the nicest French Fusion restaurant in Hanoi (Green Tangerine) is located directly across the road from our hotel in a beautifully restored colonial house. Diners sit around an outside cobbled courtyard adorned with stone carvings and pretty flowers. We had delicious seafood, duck and vegetarian dishes here. I have even dined alone, savoring new dishes when himself was otherwise engaged with students (Shh don't tell him that). The restaurant has won numerous certificates of Excellence and the standards are equal to that of Paris and London.
I think most people are aware that Japanese food has to be in our top five favourite foods, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to try the Sushi Bar in the Tien Trang Plaza. Offering sashimi, hotpots and various kinds of sushi, we didn't delay in filling our boots. We have returned a number of times and never fail to eat too much! That said the sushi, while delicious, still does not quite meet the standards of Taikichi in Limerick (which is a real credit to the city).
This DIY experience was probably the most daunting that we have encountered to date. With little English spoken by the staff, we were very much in the dark about what exactly we were ordering (as it turned out - a hell of a lot of food). Choosing the safest option, we went with the set menu for 2. In the end, our meal consisted of 16 dishes of vegetables (refilled each time they emptied), 3 plates of meat all barbecued at our table - very novel, hence all the photos! After some gesturing and laughing we finally realised that we were to fill large lettuce leaves with rice, beef, vegetables and sauce, then roll (like a spring roll) and enjoy! 'Rat ngon'
Owned by the same Chef (Didier Corlou) as La Verticale, This restaurant Madame Hien is a tribute to his Vietnamese wife's grandmother and the Vietnamese style of cooking. The dishes represent the best of Vietnamese flavors served a la fine dining. Again we opted for the significantly cheaper set lunch option (dinner can go for up to $45 pp - expensive by Hanoi standards). We ate some Vietnamese classics such as; Banana flower salad with papaya, fresh spring rolls, seafood, pork and banana bread with ice-cream. Again, the setting was very atmospheric with a closed courtyard (complete with outdoor kitchen). The dining room is in a huge colonial villa, once owned by the French architect of the Hanoi Opera House. It even hosted the King (bet you didn't know that!).
Early Morning Feasts
Our hotel in Da Nang offered us fried eggs, Banh Mi and soy sauce! We were skeptical at first but soon realised how delicious a combination it really is - so much so that I have gone out early in the morning before breakfast, bought my own banh Mi (baguette) and ordered fried eggs with soy sauce so that I can make my own! This is one I'll take home with me!
Fresh Fruit has been on offer in every hotel. Most buffets consist of at least 50% fruit. Well, certain kinds of fruit; pineapple, watermelon, passion fruit and dragon fruit, oh and of course Bananas! Funnily enough we have never been offered apples (we saw them in the supermarket, but we have never seen them used). Cian reckons if he ever see's pineapple or watermelon again it will be too soon!!
Finally, our Hoi An hotel (Thanh Van 1) offered an amazing variety of breads, from chocolate bread to croissants. From custard pies to dough filled with rice. Really interesting flavours and plenty to go around - sometimes filling us until dinner! Anyone who spends a little extra on finding higher end accommodation in Vietnam is certainly in for a treat when it comes to buffet breakfasts!