If you are looking for traditional Vietnamese cuisine you will be hard pressed to find a better option than Hoi An. Located at Shangri-La Hotel Dubai, Hoi An was not only the first traditional Vietnamese restaurant to enter the city but is powered by an entirely Vietnamese kitchen.
At first glance the restaurant offers a cosy setting, one that makes for a refreshing change from the larger Dubai restaurants. Tables have been socially distanced, and we feel more than comfortable to begin our dining experience.
We look through the menu which clearly highlights the best of Vietnamese cuisine, we are excited and curious to see how the cuisine differs from its more popular Thai cousin. Given that the restaurant is named after a Vietnamese fishing port we think it best to move forward with a more seafood based selection.
Our waitress advises us to try the soup, we think its a perfect way to begin. My dining companion opts for the Traditional Vietnamese Soup with Tiger Prawns. Wanting something slightly lighter (and having eyed up prawns for starters and mains) I decide to flip to the vegetarian section of the menu and select the Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu. The Traditional Vietnamese Soup is presented in an Asian inspired tea pot, the broth is then poured over the bowl of fresh herbs, leafy vegetables and noodles, releasing each of the ingredients amora. The Hot and Sour Soup is bursting with colour as the amber reds make it a feast for the eyes as well as the senses, and yes it is very similar to Tom Yum Soup.
Starters has us exploring the Grilled Beef Tenderloin Salad, light and fragrant, thin slices of beef are tossed with cucumber, tomatoes, onion and dressed in a fish sauce. The highlight of the starters is the Deep-Fried Crispy Spring Rolls, stuffed with shrimps and shiitake mushrooms, and presented in a coating of web-fried rice noodles. These deep fried bites of goodness crackle and crunch with each bite, releasing a multitude of textures and flavours, making it impossible for us not to finish the entire serving in one seating.
For the mains we opt for a range of dishes and decide to share. Arriving together are the Oven-Baked Seabass, wrapped in lotus leaf and served with kumquat compote and mixed herbs alongside the King Prawns in tamarind sauce, fresh basil and chilli. Deep-fried in a light batter the tamarind sauce, fresh basil and chilli gives the King Prawns a delightfully light and fragrant scent. However, the star of the evening is the Oven-Baked Seabass, from presentation, flavour to texture this dish has us ‘mmm-ing’ with every bite. Flaking at the sight of the fork the fish literally melts in our mouth…sensational. This is one dish we would highly recommend you order when visiting Hoi An.
To compliment the main dishes, we select the Hoi An Fried Rice with XO sauce, shrimps and vegetables, this comes nicely presented on a large louts leaf. Also, we order a portion of the Five types of Sauteed Mushrooms in garlic and oyster sauce. Both arrive within moments of the main dishes, allowing our dining experience to commence smoothly.
Wanting to finish on a sweet note I order the Chilled Mango Soup with coconut milk and coconut ice-cream for us both to share. We slurp our way through the thick yellow mango puree whilst taking small bites out of the indulgent coconut ice-cream. A perfect ending to our dining experience.
Throughout the meal it is evident to see how Vietnamese cuisine various to that of its Thai cousin, however it isn’t drastically unrecognizable. So, if you are a fan of the more widely accessible Thai cuisine but are looking to flex your tastebuds and explore something slightly different (whilst keeping within the flavour profiles), a journey through Vietnamese cuisine at Hoi An is a must.
The restaurant although located in a 5* star hotel is relaxed, and throughout our meal we see small groups, and individual diners pop in for a bite to eat. Staff are attentive and well versed to guide you through the menu and adhere well to dietary requirements. The price point, great service and food portions alone make this one place that you need to visit.
Traditional Vietnamese Soup with Tiger Prawns, AED 60
Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu, AED 45
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Salad, AED 68
Deep-Fried Crispy Spring Rolls, AED 65
Oven-Baked Seabass, AED 149
King Prawns in Tamarind Sauce, AED 185
Hoi An Fried Rice, AED 60
Five Types Of Sauteed Mushrooms, AED 60
Chilled Mango Soup, AED 42
Hoi An, Shangri-La Hotel Dubai, +971 4 405 2703