Taking one on a culinary tour around Vietnam, the Vietnamese Food Festival at Benjarong is a riot of fresh flavours and colours, reflected in the decor and ingredients, all flown in from Ho Chi Minh. On until August 16, the three broadly classified cuisines (northern, central and southern) of the nation are well represented, says brand chef, Ramkumar V. He started us off with the traditional iced coffee. A layer of condensed milk topped with Vietnamese coffee decoction is blended at the table and poured over crushed ice — a good mix of theatrics and taste. The quintessential pho, was the first dish in and we enjoyed the light broth brimming with lemongrass, beef slivers, flat rice noodles and pepper. A platter of starters followed, including fresh shrimp spring rolls, crispy rice paper wrap filled with crab and chicken, charcoal grilled beef on lemongrass sticks and shrimp mousse on sugarcane sticks. The spring rolls, stuffed with vermicelli, lemongrass, and vegetables were exactly as fresh as promised and teamed with the fermented bean sauce were simply refreshing.
For mains, we sampled the stir-fried glass noodles with crab meat and chicken fried rice with lotus seeds, which came wrapped in a lotus leaf. The meatiness of the crab paired well with the glass noodles, and the subtly flavoured rice was equally appetising with peas, succulent chicken chunks and lotus seeds. Rice and noodles were paired with the caramelised fish in claypot and Vietnam chicken curry in coconut gravy.
The fish came with a light sauce made with palm sugar, fish sauce and pepper, while the chicken gravy was thick and slightly sweet but smack with flavours from lemon grass, coconut milk and red chillies. We ended our meal on a sweet note with the crystallised banana steamed cake with cream coconut.
`1,500++ for two. At Ulsoor. Details: 32217201
— Rashmi Rajagopal