Good Afternoon Vietnam

With due apologies to the makers of this Robin Williams starrer, a Vietnamese food festival held at Syn, the pan Asian grill and bar at Taj Deccan inspired this header. It was indeed a very good afternoon at lunch the other day because I got to sample some of the most exquisitely flavoured Vietnamese food.

From my Sydney days, my exposure to Vietnamese food had me hooked. The Rice Noodle Soup with chicken, basil and bean sprouts I used to have there remains a favourite, but the chef from Blue Ginger, India’s first Vietnamese restaurant in Bengaluru, created some magic with the starters, soups and mains I had.

In my opinion, Vietnamese cuisine seems to blend and balance flavours drawn from different herbs and spices in a manner that is far more complex and richer than say, Chinese food. The starters — Fresh chestnut rice paper roll (fresh water chestnut with vegetable rolled  rice paper roll); Lotus root salad with basil and shallots (which by the way is highly recommended by guests of Blue Ginger); Wok tossed king prawn in tamarind sauce and the Grilled Chicken with Lime Leaf and Chilli — all were richly flavoured. Especially the chicken – the chilli and the lime leaf blended to perfection and everyone at the table had second helpings of the dish.

The soup — the only truly spicy item in the entire meal thankfully — was a Spicy Lemon Grass Vegetable Soup but thoroughly enjoyable. A novel combination served at the main course stage was homemade bread slices to be sampled with the Spicy Chicken Cari with Okra. The curry was a yellow one and its spice base very reminiscent of our own curries but in Vietnam, traditionally had with bread. Surprisingly, the combination worked and was really tasty. Other dishes I sampled included the Grilled Basa in Lemon Grass, Galangal and Fresh Turmeric [an absolute must have], Wok Tossed Chicken in Satay Sauce, and Silken Tofu and Water Chest Nut Red Cari. The tofu was even softer than the moniker Silken implied. These dishes were served with Stir Fried Rice Noodles and Chicken and Vegetable Rice.

Dessert was Sweetened Coconut Cream with Jelly and Fruits and a Lemon Grass Cheese Cake — in one sentence, I wish I had saved some space in my tummy for more of these.

It is only on till the 23rd but Rishi Chopra, the General Manager assured us that some of the popular dishes would be included in the repertoire of Vietnamese food served at Syn.

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