The US-based food website Daily Meal continues its culinary tour of the world with its first-ever roster of the 101 Best Restaurants in Asia, which honours five Vietnamese restaurants.
Ho Chi Minh City’s Lemongrass and Nha hang Ngon were ranked 21st and 28th respectively while Da Nang’s La Maison 1888 placed 58th, Ho Chi Minh City’s Hoi An and Mandarine, 71th and 95th in the list which includes restaurants in countries and territories Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Macau.
While its simple wicker furniture and narrow three-story dining room may seem pedestrian, the food at Lemongrass, located around the block from the city's opera house, is not. The straightforward, well-cooked southern Vietnamese fare (including an inexpensive three-course lunch special) represents the region's fresh, bright, vividly flavored cuisine perfectly. Try the grilled beef salad with mango or the chicken sautéed with chile and lemongrass.
Located across from the Reunification Hall, Nha hang Ngon is full of stalls offering a multitude of examples of good Vietnamese street food. Both beef and chicken pho, two takes on the national noodle soup dish in Vietnam, are first-rate, as are the spring rolls, mango salad with prawn crackers, and fried tofu with fermented shrimp dip.
At La Maison 1988, you’ll dine in an exquisite French setting inside Vietnam’s Intercontinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort. Under the helm of UK-based Michelin three-star chef Michel Roux, La Maison 1888 offers haute French cuisine with subtle Asian flavors. Expect to enjoy dishes like fillet of steamed bass wrapped in a seaweed crust and pan-fried scallops served with a lime-scented carrot purée. Designed after an antique French mansion, the restaurant’s beautiful interior is worth the trip in itself. If the setting and your delicious meal haven’t captivated you yet, be ready to swoon during your post-dinner drinks out on the veranda of the restaurant’s Buffalo Bar, where you’ll enjoy unique cocktails from their menu of aged whiskies and infused vodkas.
Hoi An (its sister restaurant is Mandarine; see number 95) offers a quintessential Vietnamese dining experience. Named after a central Vietnamese coast town influenced by Chinese and French settlers, the romantic, cozy French-Vietnamese dining room is a fitting setting for a menu of grilled shrimp in banana leaf with lime juice and salt; tiny rice custards with crumbled shrimp; fried chicken with lemon sauce; and cao lau - thin slices of pork, shrimp, and sesame cake served on rice noodles - accompanied with marrow-bone broth.
Mandarine, the sister property to Hoi An, which ranks 71 on our list, is an intimate, romantic, and upscale Chinese restaurant populated with Chinese screen paintings, wooden carvings, and live music. The menu is brimming with pricey spicy, sour, and salty dishes that are the hallmark of Chinese cuisine. While the menu includes delicacies like abalone, the foreign-friendly offerings also include the more approachable grilled bay scallops with chopped scallions, peanuts, and herbs, and beer-steamed crabs.
The dining options in Asia today are seemingly endless, from street carts to night markets to cosmopolitan cafés to the domains of European and American celebrity chefs. The Daily Meal chose Din Tai Fung, in Taipei, as the best restaurant in Asia.
At Din Tai Fung, “what began as a mom-and-pop cooking-oil shop has evolved into the home of what is arguably the world’s best xiao long bao, a type of steamed bun filled with broth”.
Arguably the most dramatically changed culinary landscape is that of China, which has the most restaurants on the list with 28, 21 of which are in Beijing, learnt the Daily Meal. Four of the restaurants in its top ten are in Beijing.
The Daily Meal’s 101 best restaurants in Asia were voted by restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, bloggers with wide restaurant-going experience and long-term foreign residents on the basis of cuisine, style, value, and overall buzz.-VNA