La Table du Chef is serving up some of the finest French haute cuisine to be found in Ha Noi. Thuy Hang reports.
The city has got another upscale dining destination, with the recent transformation of the downtown Press Club into La Table du Chef.
Located within the Press Club building, the interior decor of La Table du Chef is a tribute to creative minds who express their art with their hands.
Inspired by the handwritten letters and words of writers and journalists, the decor sublimates the use of the hand as a “printer for the creative mind”. The newly opened restaurant is a subtle journey into fine crafts, paintings and culinary and winemaking arts from Viet Nam and France.
At La Table du Chef, lovers of haute cuisine are invited to hunt for the traces of the work of hands, embedded in many aspects of the restaurant’s decor. The face in the logo of La Table du Chef is the first evocation of journalists and writers of the past, while other touches can be found on the dining plates, tables and cushions.
|Succulent: Scallops in a light parsley crust, toasted quinoa pilaf and zucchini.|
Glimpse of the “song of gestures” can be found on the polished cement walls, the lacquered tables and table accessories, as well as on the Hermes wickerwork wallpaper.
The menu has been created by French Michelin-star Chef Alain Dutournier, who selected La Table du Chef to showcase his haute cuisine for the first time outside of France.
Born in the cradle of gastronomy in south-western France, Dutournier has had a brilliant career as a chef and owns several top restaurants in Paris. He respects and dignifies the authenticity of every dish, and that’s why, in every creation, the chef always elevates the original flavour of key ingredients.
|Seafood delight: Arcachon bay oyster, seaweed and caviar. — VNS Photos Thuy Hang|
Our luncheon began with Langoustine in Chartreuse verte. The sweet and succulent flesh of the cold water seafood lies on a bed of royal sauce, which actually is a mousse boiled down with the head and claws. The delicate flavour of langoustine, combined with the unique scent of the liquor made from 130 different plants, confuses diners with the very first bite. But it also leaves them with a very impressive flavour.
The second starter was Arcachon bay oyster, seaweed and caviar. The dish is a see-through jelly cube, which contains a poached oyster, and is topped with a layer of caviar that looks like tiny black pearls.
The restaurant’s Food and Beverage Director Dang Thanh Tung said to release the oyster’s flavour as much as possible, the chef ground the shellfish and mixed it with onions and avocado to make the jelly.
Normally, the dish is garnished with oyster leaves to add an extra dimension to the seafood dish, as well as to amaze diners with the similarity of flavours of two different products, one from salt water and one from the wild lands of north-west Europe and America. However, on the day we were there, the slightly salty leaves were unavailable.
|Pretty in pink: Raspberry pavlova, sherbet of rose and lychee jelly.|
La Table du Chef
Address: 3rd Floor, Press Club Hanoi, 59A Ly Thai To St, Hoan Kiem Dist, Ha Noi
Tel: +84 4 39340888
Opening time: 11.30am-2pm (lunch) &6pm-10pm (dinner)
Comment: Refined interior setting; sophisticated food and all-imported ingredients; menu changed every three months; exclusive price.
The menu absolutely is not for one who intends to follow a strict regime as we continue our exclusive meal with Cream of chestnut, truffle and foie gras foam, poached hen pheasant aiguillette. The soup is a grand symphony of the buttery flavour of foie gras and the aromatic scent of “black diamond” mushrooms, which are not only found in the soup itself, but also on a side on small toast, covered with truffle powder and a thin layer of raw chestnut slices. However, in a plate containing too many outstanding ingredients, the presence of pheasant aiguillette seems a bit unnecessary. The meat not only overloads the soup but also failed to conquer my taste buds with its starchy texture.
I was served my main course of Scallops in a light parsley crust, toasted quinoa pilaf and zucchini. To balance the previous rich course, this oil-free main dish is quite healthy.
Wrapped in a crust, the succulent shellfish is cooked in the oven to keep its natural taste. The protein-packed quinoa and a knot of zucchini threads are the dish’s healthy factor. As I was full when the dish was placed on the table, I just had one bite from my plate.
The last course, Raspberry pavlova, sherbet of rose and lychee jelly, was really an amazing dessert that made everyone say ‘wow’. It not only enchants diners with its different shades of pink, but also with its refreshing flavour. Fresh, sweet raspberries adorned the creamy pavlova. The little crunchy lychee jelly adds another fresh dash to the dessert.
I was completely conquered by the rose-scented sherbet that was so charming and enchanting. It was only the second time in my life that I have been so impressed by a sherbet. The first time was when I had a slightly spicy chilli sherbet in Sofitel Metropole Hanoi. Even though I was feeling full, I was able to finish the lovely dessert.
If I can compare the whole meal with a song, the “pinky” dessert is a key note that completes the song perfectly. Although the meal ended, for me it was a happy ending.