HOI AN Shangri-La Dubai - A Modern Vietnamese Treat With Old Flavours

With a modern treat from old flavours, Hội An restaurant in Shangri-La Dubai reinterprets your palate of its Vietnamese balance diet from the historical central coastal province of Hội An. mylifestylenews writes.

While there are more and more Asian influenced restaurants opening in Dubai in the past decade and more recently, how many of them are candidly truthful about the authenticity and taste from its country of origin? Everyone who travels to Asia knows Vietnamese food but not many have the know-how to appreciate its flavour of origin especially those with a passionate touch and presented to your table with a soulful taste.

Hội An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town, cutting through with scenic canals and surroundings. While fresh greens, herbs, fish, meat and even water from the neighboring villages that was once a prominent Vietnamese trading port, Hội An was best influenced by the Chinese, French, and even Japanese for its cuisines expansion from the past to present day. Shangri-La Dubai has brought the riverside food stalls and street food taste of Hội An to this city since 2003 and remains one of the few Vietnamese restaurants in town that continue to excite your palate with a taste of the true Vietnamese.

Tucked away on level one of the Shangri-La Dubai hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, Hội An restaurant welcomes you with its black iron tall gates slanted along the hallway adorned with old framed photos of Hội An’s historical architecture on the light burnt-orange wall. By stepping further into the restaurant, the traditional hand painted colored lanterns with different flora and fauna motifs and even sceneries from the heritage town are hung all over the ceiling in the restaurants.

The hue of blissful lights from the sea of hanging lanterns enhances the entire room with a calm and festive mood. The ambience is set to be dimmed for a reason to let you embrace the surrounding of a typical Hội An’s living lifestyle.

Colours and decorative items hanging set the tone, but there are also hand carved wooden panels with a lotus flower motif that create a unique point of reference and add a neutral tone to all the colour, which ties together the former port city’s melting-pot colonial history in a snapshot. The moment you are seated, you can’t help but notice the burnt orange glass show plates with yet another modern take on the lotus flower motif, which we loved, as the table setting is very neutral beyond this show plate, so this pop of colour is very attractive to the eye.

With an entirely Vietnamese Kitchen and leading service team, the crafted menu is presented in a contemporary style applying a liberal imagination to the culinary technique with passion, offering a mesmerizing blend of traditional Vietnamese flavours with a wide variety of delectable must-try and signature dishes by using ingredients mostly from the country of origin and Asia to closely stay truthful to its taste.

<Hoi An Tasting Platter> 
Consists of six different varieties of small bites to tease your palate with Hoanh Thanh Tom Hurn (Boston lobster ravioli with shiitake mushrooms, dried scallop crumbs, organic apple salad with a mango gastrique and coconut reduction) which required quite a culinary attention from various combinations, that putting such an exquisite flavour on the palate is the absolute highlight of the platter selection followed by the Vit Cuon La Lot (Grilled duck and foie gras sausage wrapped in betel leaves served with nuoc cham sauce). This is another not to be missed that tempted us to have a separate order on its own. Other selections included Tom Bao Xa Ot (Lemongrass and shrimp lollipop served with chili and tamarind sauce) which is also very tasty, Tom Chien Gion (Crispy coconut prawns in a rice basket with tropical fruit salsa) Nem Hai San Chein Gion (Crispy rolls with shrimp and shiitake mushrooms served with rice noodles, mint, coriander and fish sauce) and Goi Coun (Fresh Vietnamese summer roll with a choice of chicken, prawns, lobster, vegetable or tofu).

<Vit Cuon La Lot>
Grilled duck and foie gras sausage wrapped in betel leaves served with nuoc cham sauce – a mixture of dipping fish sauce. This simple dish has a superb presentation and flavor to match and it was cooked to perfection, with a touch of salad to round out the overall palate.

<Goi Coun>
Fresh Vietnamese summer roll. We picked chicken & prawns and was expecting a light roll, but the rice paper was too thick and not piquant enough to distinguish the main ingredient. Pleasant to taste, but not to our expectations.

<Nom Bo Nuong> 
This Vietnamese beef salad with pineapple, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, mint and peanuts. This dish was superb and an incredibly tasty and harmonious dish that is not to be missed. Largely due to the quality of the beef and how it was cooked to offer the freshest taste. The combination of vegetables salad topped with that crunchy deep fried shallots were well judged in cooking technique, flavor and texture.

<Thap Cam Nuong> 
Vietnamese mixed grilled satay skewers platter with Sot Lac (peanut sauce) with the combination of Muc Nuong (Cuttlefish marinated with garlic and ginger), Ga Nuong (Organic chicken marinated with galangal and kaffir lime leaf), Bo Nhat Nuong (Australian Wagyu beef MB7 marinated with soy sauce), Tom Nuong (Tiger prawns marinated with lemongrass) and Ca Tuyet Nuong (Black cod fillet marinated with signature sauce). This platter created mixed feelings. To be honest, the only skewer meat that stood out was the beef, as the meat was very tasty and cooked to just the right timing. All the others seemed to have been cooked for too long and dried out and were not that pleasant to taste. The accompanying watery peanuts sauce was also lacking that punch of flavor.

<Cac Loai Pho Viet Narn>
Traditional Vietnamese noodle soup with herbs, chili and leaf vegetables with a choice of Angus beef tenderloin, corn-fed chicken, tiger prawns, Wagyu beef striploin MB7 and Boston lobster.We opted for the Wagyu beef and were not disappointed, with incredibly tender and flavoursome meat. The pho was perfectly cooked to its smoothness silky texture and the clear broth was equally delicious and divine. For a Vietnamese pho fans, this is a must order.

<Steamed Seabass with garlic, lemongrass and dried scallops sauce> 
From its seasonal menu recommended by the service team. The meat was very delicate and beautifully cooked, but the sauce on the fish may have overpowering and overshadowed the fish itself.

<Rau Muong Xao Toi> 
Sauteed morning glory with garlic, chili and soy sauce is a typical Asian’s comfort food for a stir-fried vegetable dish. One of our favourite vegetable dishes of ours to accompany many of the dishes and cooked to just the right timing and method.

<Bo Xao Tieu Den> 
Seared Black Angus beef tenderloin with onions, capsicum, watercress and black pepper sauce is another standout dish with rich textures and flavours to be savoured. The beef was tender and the sauce was a delicious accompaniment to the beef as well as a bowl of steamed fragrant Jasmine rice is best to enjoy this dish with.

<Kem Soai Nuoc Cot Dua>
The chilled mango soup with coconut milk and coconut ice cream is a classic dish that rebalances the palate with soothing, sweet flavours and a refreshing texture after all the rich food consumed. The combination of mango and coconut is perfection personified.

<Xao dua voi so co la>
The coconut espuma served with passion fruit ice cream, salted chocolate crumble and dragon fruit salad is the pièce de résistance. Firstly, the whole dessert is contained in what looks like a baby coconut, but is, in actual fact, a hard dark chocolate sphere sitting on a bed of granulated chocolate and slivers of fresh strawberry. What a triumph! This was totally unexpected and shows such a deft French patisserie technique that we were blown away by its execution. Not to mention that every mouthful is to be enjoyed.

The evening came to a close and we had sampled such a good array of dishes to really understand the capabilities of the kitchen and can only surmise that overall the authenticity of the food is to be applauded! As one expects with every Shangri-La, the beverage list is very extensive and you will most definitely find a wine or other beverage to suit this kind of food. Service was overall attentive and with great passion – our server April exuded such passion for her country’s food and gave us warm and attentive service all evening – and we would definitely want to return after this experience. It is a great team from the kitchen headed by the young and talented Cantonese speaking Vietnamese Chef to the front of house and that inimitable Shangri-La level of service and food flavours is self-evident.

Tried & Tested:
Location: 4/5
Design & Decor: 4.5/5
Food & Beverage: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Experience: 4.5/5

Lobster Ravioli
Duck Pate Sausage
Wagyu Beef Pho

Sheikh Zayed Road,
P.O. Box 75880
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 4 405 2703

Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated. 

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