I am an ardent fan of “Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam “, a show that documents Luke’s culinary journey as he travels through Vietnam. So, when Chef Nguyen Hung Thong from Sheraton, Hanoi was visiting Westin, Hyderabad to whip up some true-to-original Vietnamese cuisine, I gladly accepted the invite for their “Vividly Vietnamese” food festival.
Vietnamese cuisine is famed for its balance of the five elements of earth and most dishes include the five fundamental taste senses – spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. Their cooking is also admired for the use of fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil and reliance on herbs and vegetables.
After a small chat with the ever-so-smiling chef, we proceeded to the “pho counter” where the chef personally demonstrated the popular dish. I was surprised to know that the chef had carried along with him specific spices and herbs indigenous to the pho. Beef been the primary meat in the traditional dish, we were given the option of chicken or veg. I opted for the chicken. The pho was fabulous!
After been aptly appetized I sampled all the salads at the counter! The Banana Blossom & Shredded Free Range Chicken Salad was outstanding and so was the Sesame Flavored Vermicelli & Seafood Vegetables Salad. I can’t pick a favorite! I gladly went for second helpings. Don’t skip the salads section. Please.
The second most popular dish after pho has to be the rice paper spring rolls. There are options for fresh spring rolls or stir-fried. Since the stir-fried version had beef I skipped that and had the fresh rice paper rolls. I noticed that the rice paper was super thin. Upon inquiry was told that the chef carried even that along with him!
The Vietnamese “wok station” has choice of vegetable/chicken/squid/prawn/beef.
And the “steamed station” has the option of chicken, fish or prawn. The steamed prawns were brilliant and perfectly done.
I had just enough space to sample few main course dishes. The Vietnamese style wok fried vegetable noodle was just about alright but the Steamed fish with soya sauce was very flavorful and the fish was beautifully done.
Along with the above dishes, the buffet also has the regular fare available at the “Seasonal Tastes”. At the dessert counter there is the usual selection of tarts, tiramisu, cakes etc. but I stuck to “vividly Vietnamese” theme.
The Chilled Longan & Lotus Seeds in Syrup was my pick! The longan is very much like our litchi. The traditional green bean (moong dal) cake I feel is an acquired taste. I had a handful of the Vietnamese fruit candy which but of course the chef bought with him!
Thank you Westin, Hyderabad for this wonderful experience. The “Vividly Vietnamese” festival is on till August 23rd and is part of the buffet at Seasonal Tastes. The buffet is priced around Rs 1450/- for lunch and Rs 1650/- for dinner.
“Xin-Cam-On” chef Nguyen Hung Thong!