When it comes to South Asian cuisine, Vietnamese is still largely undiscovered in favour of more readily available options, such as Indian or Thai, but once you’re exposed to its vibrant flavours you’ll travel the lengths of the city to taste more. And once you find Hoi An, you just know you’ll be back.
The menu is extensive so it’s a good job the staff are knowledgeable about the dishes and confident enough to make recommendations for newbies to the cuisine. The best place to start is with the cold rice rolls and Hoi An serves an appetiser trio featuring shrimp with chicken, Black Angus beef tenderloin and lump crab meat with chilli dipping sauce. It will set your tastebuds alight and have them twitching in anticipation of what’s to come. There is, of course, pho which is Vietnam’s most famous dish; an aromatic broth made with beef or chicken, noodles, vegetables, fresh herbs and condiments for customising your bowl. It’s a satisfying meal in itself so don’t expect a mere soup when you’re ordering.
For main course, we’d recommend ordering a few plates to share (or maybe we’re just greedy!) so you get to experience a variety of ingredients and specialised cooking techniques. Seafood is the base for most Vietnamese dishes and a highlight at Hoi An is the steamed sea bream wrapped in banana leaf and served with ginger sauce, black mushroom and crunchy bok choy. The five spice grilled baby chicken with vegetables, sticky rice, and spicy lime sauce is also an absolute must-try.
For dessert, Hoi An calls on Vietnam’s French influence with dishes such as crème brûlée, tarte tatin and chocolate fondant given a tropical twist. The roast banana tarte tatin with coconut ice cream and caramel sauce is a real treat.
While a three-course meal at Hoi An may rack up the Dirhams, there’s a couple of set menu options that’ll leave you to enjoy all Vietnam has to offer without breaking the bank.
INFO: 7pm-12am daily, Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, firstname.lastname@example.org, 04 405 2703