Sofitel Mumbai BKC in association with Hotel Metropole Hanoi is celebrating “A Vietnamese Food & Art Voyage”, showcasing some of the popular dishes of Vietnam as well as an artistic extravaganza of contemporary Vietnamese paintings at Pondicherry Café. The festival commenced on 21st September and is on till the 30th September, 2018.
Each evening of this festival, the visiting chefs Ngo Thu Nguyet and Le Duy Thanh from Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi in Vietnam will take charge of a section of the Pondicherry Café buffet, offering an array of Vietnamese dishes with both traditional and contemporary flavours. There are a variety of dishes such as Mango Salad, Crab Soup with Asparagus, Fried Crab Spring Roll, Fried Prawn with Chilli Salt, Stewed Beans with Carrots & Potatoes, Fried Rice with Sweet Corn, Grilled Marinated Fish, Pineapple & Curry, Caramelized Banana with Spices and more.
We liked the Crab Soup with Asparagus. It had mushrooms and crabmeat in a whitish soup with froth on the top, and it had a good amount of flavour. Vegetarians could try the Mushroom Soup with Sweet Corn. The Fried Prawns with Chili Salt was average and so was Roasted Chicken with Vietnamese Spices.
The Vietnamese Pho in the live counter was very flavourful. The chef added a handful of basic ingredients and a chilli sauce to create a soul-satisfying Vietnamese comfort food. The meat was tender enough. The Stewed Water Buffalo with Cinnamon and Rice Wine was tender, but could be improved on flavour. Rather, I liked the Braised Eggplant with Mushrooms, which came in a well-balanced curry-like gravy. The next dish, the Stewed “Dong Co” Mushrooms with Tofu, Chili and Lemon Grass Sauce was sweet and spicy: very flavourful indeed!
Purple Yam Sweet Soup with Sago was quite good. I never had a purple yam dish that was prepared so well in Asian style. The Raw Mango Salad was punchy enough. I loved its sweet, sour and spicy flavour. It was just what I needed to amp-up my appetite.
The Vietnamese Salad with Seafood was fresh and extremely well-prepared with rice vermicelli and shrimps. I love the fact that how this simple salad with shrimps has the potential to be the centrestage in any Asian-style buffet! The salad was a crowd-puller that evening. The Fried Crab Spring Rolls were a huge let-down. Those tasted okay, but smelled like those were fried in oil that wasn’t hot enough. I could easily smell the raw oil!
Then there was a well-made fried rice and a tasty Fried Fish with Herb Sauce that lent it a sweet-n-sour flavour to go with the rice.
Among the two desserts, the Sweet Taro Soup was bland. I tasted one Black Leaf Cake, which was quite impressive with a stuffing of rice, peanuts and water chestnuts. The leaves still had that distinct chlorophyll taste, but still it tasted good. However, both the desserts were not as impressive as compared to the non-Vietnamese desserts in the buffet.
The festival is a good attempt to introduce various Vietnamese flavours to its patrons. While a few dishes were good, a few needed improvements. Overall, the buffet at Pondicherry Café in Sofitel Mumbai was a welcome change to the usual buffet spread available there.
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