Anyway, one of our travelling companions, who is accustomed to the life of royalty, (speaking of royalty, I bumped into Sultan Azlan Shah and Tunku Bainun at a Silk Shop in Han Gai, the shopping area of Ha Noi....it was the row of S classes parked on the street that made me peer in with nose pressed up against the glass), was getting very "3rd world out", so insisted I followed him to the Sofitel Metropole, while the ladies continued their shopping spree of lacquer and stuff. So, we entered the Sofitel, me a tad sloppy, having just spilt my fruit smoothie all over my shirt... where we were veered away from the ladida French restaurant, and directed to the Vietnamese Restaurant. To my pleasant surprise, I didn't have to sell my soul, and whatever other sellable commodity on me, to afford a meal there. Anyway, the King (my friend) was paying. It was USD 15 for a Sudu KL Hilton like buffet. Buffet starters and dessert, and a choice of mains.
These handcrafted spring rolls were absolutely deevine. Its a bit like making hong kong chee cheong fun....the covers freshly made from a batter, over a steamer. The meat filling was yummy.
A scent of green papaya? Funny how I used to think such titles of movies or books sounded so exotic. Now, I am inclined to think that the gwai lows seem to be so gullible, that everything with a dash of coriander, lemongrass, basil, fish sauce, ...sounds exotic. Probably explains the proliferation of fusion cuisines abroad, and its dismal failure here.
Dainty little starters, wrapped in exotic sounding leaves.... rather delicious though, I have to say.
For the mains, I opted for the traditional vietnamese fish balls with rice and vegetables...which was a mistake...they accidentally brought another main, prawns with noodles, which looked a whole lot more delectable.
Sponsor had the bamboo chicken....which was very good. They are very generous with their greens.
Desserts were pretty interesting. The thing in the urine sample bottle is creme caramel. Lovely mangoes they have. The opera cake was like a local musical, ie, forgettable.
Our next culinary treat was dinner at BOBBY CHINN'S. I've honestly never heard of him, though all my western educated friends did. A trendy restaurant located at one corner of the something something lake, the interior is lavishly decorated with spools of red cloth, and rose petals that makes wedding confetti look like a balding man.
The restaurant itself is very dark, and for old folk like us, they even provided illuminated magnifying glasses to read the menu. I kid you not. It did help though. Without it, I read the foie gras terrine as POLE GRASS URINE in the dark light...
Honestly, I can find NO FAULT at all, at this place, from the service, to the ambience, to the quality of food and to the fabulous owner, Bobby Chinn himself. No airs, this man has.
Fish cakes? My memory (and lips) is like a goldfish these days. Anything longer than 10 seconds, I go, "huh?"
My meat craving, after all that Pho, resulted in me ordering this piece of cow, Fillet Mignon. Excellent stuff. Creamy mash that slid down the throat like lubricants down a engine.
Seared prawns with a semi glutinous rice which was absolutely sublime. The rice was a bit sweetish, and went together like rama rama lap dingie ga dingie dong...
Wife's platter of signature dishes. Okay, prize for whoever can guess what that thing is at 3 oclock. I actually blogged earlier, but the autosave didnt seem to be working at the time, and I lost half my post.
The inimitable Bobby Chinn himself. Half Chinese, Half Egyptian, and credentials long enough to reach the moon. Great fella. One of our party was throwing herself shamelessly on him.
Here are a few more shots of Hanoi. At the bottom is the opera house and Hanoi Hilton, where my friend was looking to recreate the scene from the Quiet American, but couldnt locate the spot where Michael Caine had his daily drink.
And you wont be getting anymore food reviews from me from awhile, as my colleague just walked in and said, "wah, sudah tembam la".