It is always a delight to go back to Hoi An, Shangri-La’s signature Vietnamese restaurant, especially in the Dubai establishment. The restaurant's new add-on to its interior welcomes you with the traditional perfect circular cone nón lá (leaf hat) that is appliqued to the entrance walkway light burnt-orange wall to create a certain atmosphere of Vietnam, adorned with the black iron tall gates slanted along the hallway and old framed photos of Hoi An’s historical architecture.
More traditional hand painted colored lanterns with different flora and fauna motifs and even sceneries from the heritage town of Hoi An are hung all over the ceiling in the restaurant that certainly brightens the entire dining room with a more festive mood of the already blissful atmosphere.
This is a great way to open the palate and try a variety of different flavours and this Chef selected platter is composed of 6 appetizers accompanied by Nuoc cham dipping sauce and Tuong Ot chili sauce: Lemongrass and shrimp lollipop on sugar-cane served with chili and tamarind sauce freshly delivered to open your appetite. The seafood spring roll is crisply deep-fried with subtle flavours; the stuffed banana leaf with seafood, lemongrass, coriander, tamarind sauce, rice noodles is moist and beautifully done with a distinctive flavour to please; the duck foie-gras sausage with plum sauce and peanut is no doubt the highlight of the platter selection which is simply divine; the Vietnamese banh khot mini shrimp pancakes with rice flour yellow bean, mix herbs, fish sauce and pickles is warm and delicious on all counts; the salmon roll with hoisin sauce may be a little too strong in taste that takes away the flavour of the salmon but yet still quite tasty and enjoyable. Apparently the selection of appetizers may vary each day depending on the Chef. Don’t miss out on this platter!
We encored this dish from the platter selection by ordering a full plate. The pancakes were very soft and the springy shrimp done just so, with the mixed herbs, fish sauce and pickles adding an exotic touch to the palate. Absolute perfection!
This national dish of Vietnam hits one of the highest orders in any Vietnamese restaurant visit no matter where, as in Hoi an, it is to no exception. A very tasty noodle soup with excellent quality Angus beef tenderloin used as well as fresh herbs, leaf vegetables and the soup stock was redolent of herbs, beef stock and other yummy flavours that made this unmissable!
This chicken is marinated with honey and lemon and is served with assorted vegetables. The char-grilled chicken was so tender and flavoursome and the sauce is deliberately salty, so don’t have too much, but it really adds a kick on the palate.
This dish is textbook copy in execution, perfectly slow braised and tender beef cheeks that melts easily in the mouth together with pearl onion and carrot reminiscent of some French stewed dishes which adds that extra dimension. Fresh Vietnamese basil leafs were added for its sweet-smelling aroma that gave a distinctive to die for flavour to this dish, accompanied by a large slice of garlic French baguette to help you whet up the rich and tasty gravy.
This dry noodle dish is a multi-composite of ingredients – vermicelli with char-grilled chicken, prawn cake, crispy spring roll, mixed herbs and fish sauce. On arrival at the table, you must mix everything up well to create a balanced dish by pouring the entire bowl of the intense Nuoc cham fish sauce, otherwise some ingredients will come to the fore more than others. As it happens, all the components having a voice that is delightful and at the same time utterly delicious!
This dish was executed well but not exactly quintessentially Vietnamese in flavour , more French influenced instead. However, it will not disappoint if you want a fish dish that is more neutral in flavour and will satisfy those palates that want a comfort dish. The thinly fried salmon fish skin that sits on top of the fish as garnish is another highlight!
This is the most perfect tenderloins we have had in a long time. The grilled Australian beef tenderloin comes with sweet potato puree, asparagus and tasty black truffle sauce. Another dish that may not be classic Vietnamese, but if this is your thing, you will linger over this scrumptious and tender meat. Just don’t overdo the sauce, as it is quite salty and the beef meat speaks on its own. It is a perfect ten dish that still relates to its own culture!
The slow-cooked duck leg with Vietnamese five-spice is another winner from the Hoi An menu. It is a classic Asian way in handling a good duck dish in a unique yet traditional style. Smokey in flavour with extremely tender meat that exudes the slow-cooked technique and the five-spice add that other dimension to the meat flavour. It is definitely influenced by the French confit canard tradition and we absolutely loved it.
Rice with XO Sauce>
While rice is an essential need in most Asian meals and Hoi An fried rice with XO sauce is the most perfect fried rice we have had in a long while. Fluffy light rice have been stir-fried with the right amount of oil used to reduce greasiness and wrapped over by the lotus leaf that delivers a subtle flavour that is heavenly. A simple dish done well!
A complex and rich stir-fired flavour in rich dark sauce and presented on a heavy stone bowl that supposedly is to give a sizzling effect. Unfortunately it came lukewarm and so not at its optimum temperature to enjoy.
Yes, we had eaten too much, as too many dishes were untried from our previous visit, but desserts still needed tasting, so we opted for contrasting flavours. The Chocomisu is a chocolate take on Tiramisu of course, but with the caramel Bavaroise added a more decadent take which was moreish.
The Coconut & Lemon was a lemon cigar on a sable biscuit with popping candy and a light and refreshing dessert with layers of divine tropical flavours.
Once again, an
evening of well executed and delicious food that cannot fail to please any
picky palate, unless you are a stranger to Vietnamese food that needs further
guidance or even tutorial. These dishes do not scream at your palate with spicy and out of
control flavours. There is a delicacy to many of the dishes that allow
ingredients to unfold on your palate and Hoi An has to be the standout of
Vietnamese restaurants in Dubai. For Shangri-La
standard, it is eminently affordable and the ambience is second to none.