6 months ago

Fah Thai Magazine Jul-Aug 2018

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HAPPENINGS VIETNAM DANANG / HANOI / PHU QUOC SPOTLIGHT Native Touches, New Cuisine THROUGH THE FRENCH QUARTER Hanoi had been the capital of French Indochina until 1954. When the French left Vietnam, they also left their architectural mark in the city’s French Quarter. Many colonial buildings — including the Hanoi Opera House, Hoa Lo Prison Museum, the National Museum of Vietnamese History and heritage villas — are packed together in streets south of Hoan Kiem Lake. Visitors and culture enthusiasts alike could sign up with Hidden Hanoi ( for a walking tour (USD25 per person) with a local guide. At a slow pace, this culture tour will lead into Hanoi’s iconic Ba Dinh Square and focus on the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party building — formerly the Lycee Albert Sarraut High School, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While many of the old French residences have crumbled badly, others have been renovated and given a new lease on life as higher end hotels full of Gallic trimmings or restaurants. GET SOMETHING CRAFTY Located on the corner of Van Mieu and Ngo Tat To streets and next door to Dai Thanh Mon — or the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, is Craft Link souvenir shop. This well-run shop is worth stopping by for unique yet beautiful Vietnamese crafts. Set in a heritage building, the two-storied shop house has impressive collections of tribal textiles, embroidered pillowcases, purses, silk scarves, woodworks, lacquer, chopsticks and handicrafts of the finest quality and decently priced. True to its name, Craft Link serves as a bridge for local craftsmanship to market their goods on the fair trade principle. It helps Vietnamese craftspeople — mostly ethnic groups scattered across the country gain more from their unique yet beautiful crafts and culture. Craft Link also collaborates with the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi to preserve skills among tribal groups, the puppet-making craft, and traditional ceramics. “Nen” is the Vietnamese word for a hybrid between a garlic and shallot, and this restaurant plays with elements of local language and heritage, resulting in dishes steeped in the country’s identity, but modern in flavour and presentation. In other words, Nen pushes Vietnamese cuisine to fine dining level with their tasting menus. The restaurant is located in a Danang quiet and beautiful neighbourhood next to the Han River. Inside a modern and minimalistic building with a serene garden, Nen uses local ingredients and makes them the star of the dishes instead of using produce from elsewhere. The menu ranges from refined Vietnamese classics liked roasted pork belly wrapped in lace rice sheets to New Vietnamese with an inventive quail dish inspired with wild mountain spices from an ethnic minority group and a corn puree. For a meatless dining experience, decisions may be tough, with more dishes using local ingredients and patron favourites. Their Green Vietnamese menu offers the Secret Garden, with smoked braised eggplant with lemongrass and garden herbs, a young jackfruit curry, or the noodle dish of mi quang with local pesto and braised tofu. A DUSIT HOTEL DEBUT IN PHU QUOC Dusit Princess Moonrise Beach Resort opens its doors in Phu Quoc for holiday-makers looking to chill out in this tropical spot. Located on the island’s west coast, the four-star resort overlooks the stunning Truong Beach, also known as Long Beach for its 20 kilometre stretch of sand. The resort is designed to blend Dusit’s unique Thai heritage with Vietnamese culture and local traditions. All 108 contemporary guestrooms range from 32 square metres of deluxe rooms to 90 square metres of suites with inviting ocean views. The centrepiece of the resort is a large infinity pool with an ocean view set within a lush tropical garden. Other facilities include a kid’s club and Luna Thai Spa, which offers a range of holistic treatments carried out by trained therapists. The resort options include an all-day dining restaurant, a lobby lounge, a swim-up pool bar serving Thai, Vietnamese and Western cuisines; and Soi 14, a stylish beachfront bar and lounge where a Thai chef puts a hot and spicy spin to a Thai street food vibe. General manager Markus Lohenstein points out that the stunning resort has gorgeous sunsets almost every day. Fringed with white-sand beaches, Phu Quoc is rapidly transformed from a sleepy backwater island to a tropical paradise. 110