Hue Royal Cuisine gains international recognition

‘Phuong Hoang Vu’ or Royal Phoenix Cake is a centuries old royal dish from the ancient Imperial Capital of Hue during the Nguyen Dynasty, the recipe of which had been lost to the world for nearly a century.

After intensive research and study of ancient documents, Vietnamese culinary experts were able to recreate the dish and their resulting cuisine artwork has been recognized by the Asia Book of Records.

The gigantic culinary crafted cake on display at the Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: kyluc.vn)

At a ceremony to announce the new National and Asia Records on October 27 last year at the Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, many participants stayed back in the hotel lobby for a long time to gaze at a spectacular and edible cuisine artwork in the shape of a royal phoenix--one of the four sacred creatures in Vietnamese folklore.

The cuisine artwork was a cake named ‘Phuong Hoang Vu-Bat Phong Hoi Dau’ depicting a dancing phoenix formed by edible food items like mung bean, rice flour and different kinds of vegetables.

Legend has it that in 1925 in Hue Imperial Palace on the 40th birthday of King Khai Dinh, artisan Tran Vien baked and offered a cake named ‘Co Do’ to the King, who praised and lavished a reward on the artisan for making such a sophisticated and exquisite dish. Over the years though, sadly the recipe was lost and now after nearly a century later the original cake recipe has been once again revived from oblivion and brought into the world.

Chef Ton Nu Thi Ha, owner of royal restaurant Tinh Gia Vien in Hue City and her daughter Phan Ton Tinh Hai, principal of the Mint Culinary School in Ho Chi Minh City and judge of reality show Iron Chef Vietnam successfully recovered the technique and secret to re-create this unique dish that only appeared in special royal feasts at the Hue Palace.

Once the royal cake was complete it measured 6.8 meters in length and 4.2 meters in width and said to have consumed 3.5 tons of coal and required 18 assistants to attach 4,862 food items and more than 2,000 garnishing bits onto the dancing phoenix shaped cake dish.

After the dish was nominated by Vietnam Book of Records, the Indian office of Asia Book of Records also recognized the royal cuisine artwork ‘Phuong Hoang Vu-Bat Phong Hoi Dau’.

Phan Ton Tinh Hai shared that she felt happiness and was deeply honored to contribute to the revival of one of Vietnam’s lost culinary treasures. Her dream was realized even though at no time did she have sufficient number of helpers, money or materials to create such a gigantic and spectacular cuisine craftwork.

By Ha Dinh Nguyen – Translated by Thuy Doan

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