On our first evening of our trip we were invited to the Shangri-La Dubai Hotel for pre-dinner drinks at their ikandy lounge and dinner at their traditional Vietnamese restaurant Hoi An.
We stepped out of the elevator and onto the neon pink bridge that connects the iKandy lounge to the hotel. It was quite a surreal experience with everything bathed in a warm pink glow.
As there was a chill in the air we opted for a table by a patio heater, an absolute lifesaver after our windy boat trip.
The lounge was poolside and had a very trendy but chilled-out vibe. It was also very pink. I don’t know if I’d mentioned that already? The trees on the outdoor terrace were all illuminated in pinks and blues.
We sat and browsed the drinks menu on the iPad whilst listening to their trendy music playing in the background. It would have been lovely during the day, when you didn’t have to worry about the temperature and could go for a dip in the pool.
Although the night we were there it was very quiet, there were curtains to section off private areas and there was a good view of the Burj Khalifa too.
Maria’s deliciously thick and smooth in texture fruit smoothie and my (very strong) refreshing champagne elderflower cocktail arrived. They really didn’t skimp on the quantities. All served in plastic vessels. After filling ourselves with liquid we moved up to the restaurant area.
At Hoi An were were greeted enthusiastically by April who would be looking after us for the evening. She introduced herself and told us a bit about the restaurant and their menu.
Hoi An at the Shangri-La Dubai is named after the Vietnamese fishing port and is known as Dubai’s only authentic Vietnamese restaurant and won Dubai’s “Best Pan-Asian Restaurant” in the What’s On Awards 2014. Something we didn’t know was that the entire kitchen and service team are entirely Vietnamese for authentic Vietnamese flavours on the menu and traditional hospitality.
The menu that April selected for us was a selection of their signature dishes which started with a chicken and sweet chilli sauce amuse bouche.
April suggested a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc to pair with my food, a fresh and fruity wine that wouldn’t affect the food and spices.
We were then treated to a hot cleansing towel and a shot of pineapple and mint to cleanse the palette.
For starters April suggested a selection of their signature dishes which included grilled duck and foie gras sausage wrapped in pepper leaves, chicken with hoi sin sauce and fruity chicken satay with apple. All were surprisingly light. I also have to apologise for the orange hue all my photos seem to have!)
Our next course consisted of Ph Bò Viêt Nam soup with Angus beef. The beef was very tender and the soup very tasty. There was fresh coriander, lime and chilli on the side to add as required.
Next we were given a small serving of Lemon sorbet with tiny spoon. This represented a mix of European custom between courses. In Vietnam, April explained that you would eat all the courses together.
For the main (even though we were practically bursting by now) I had a trio of:
- Gà Núóng Lá Chanh– five spice grilled baby chicken with vegetables, sticky rice and spicy lime sauce.
- Bò Núóng Sä Sôt Nâm -grilled marinated Angus beef tenderloin with foie gras, sweet potato and asparagus.
- Cȗu Núóng Ngû Vi¸ – Grilled five-spice Australian lamb chops with green beans, nectarine and plum sauce.
The chicken was very light and the lime made it refreshing. The beef was tangy and the potatoes texture was perfect. The lamb was zingy and the ginger made it sharp. The restaurant’s phrase of “Colourful flavours of modern Vietnam” certainly held up with this selection of beautiful dishes that complemented each other well.
April was very chatty and friendly throughout our evening regaling us with information about the food and also some personal stories.
Our final dish was a mango boule, a mango soup with fresh mango and coconut sorbet. I think someone must have told April that these are my favourite deserts. It was a lovely end to the meal.
Or so I thought. We were then brought some fresh mint tea to aid digestion and a crumbling salty biscotti.
Tonight was an evening of impeccable service (even to the leering men who didn’t deserve it who never spoke to April’s face and tried to grab at the waitresses!) and the food was in a class of its own. Hoi An should be down on your list of restaurants to visit next time you are in Dubai! Just make sure you leave enough room for the feast ahead.
Thank you to the Shangri-La Dubai Hotel for sponsoring our evening. As always all opinions in this article are honest and our own.
Last modified: 20th September 2016