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Traveling brings along lots of experiences. Tales to carry forward that you can tell others and for us, we surround those stories with food. The best part of those memories experienced is they can be refreshed when you encounter food similar to what you had during your travel to that particular location. The ‘Vividly Vietnamese’ food festival at Westin Hyderabad did something of that sorts.

Shredded Green Mango & Salad with Spearmint

A bowl of ‘Pho’ from the counter brought back a flood of memories of walking the streets of Hanoi Old Quarters, while sitting down on the small stools by the eateries and relishing some good old Pho. The lightness of the broth, the strong aroma of fresh herbs and subtle flavors was all that I needed for my fix at the Vietnamese Food Festival. Chef Nguyen Hung Thong from Sheraton Hanoi, who has a great deal of expertise on Vietnamese cuisine personally curates the entire experience.

Pho

The stand-out dish at the #VividlyVietnamese food festival at The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace is the humble Pho. The broth packed a lot of flavor and the ingredients can be customised to your liking. Chef Thong Nguyen from Sheraton Hanoi has done a commendable job in putting out a fresh spread of Vietnamese to the already existing large one at Seasonal Tastes.

Posted by Food Drifter on Monday, 17 August 2015

Westin Hyderabad has always striven in bringing world cuisine on a plate at it’s all day dining restaurant Seasonal Tastes. There is something over there for everyone with an array of food ranging from Chinese, Indian, Live Wok and Grill Meat stations, Sushi and a huge range of desserts to end it all. But with the Vividly Vietnamese food festival I stuck to only the Vietnamese dishes on the menu.

Live Wok Station

Steamed Shrimps And Fish

No doubt the Pho was a favorite among us but the one dish which quite took me by surprise was the Banana Blossom & Shredded Free Range Chicken Salad. The ingredients were fresh, crisp and yet artfully flavorful. The banana flowers and bean sprouts provided the crunch and freshness as to what was an outstanding dish. I think the dish is close to the Chef’s heart – he came numerous times to our table to inquire how we’d like the Banana Sprout Salad specifically and it had won our hearts. The salad station was my favorite place that day with the fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Shredded Green Mango salad.

Sesame Flavored Vermicelli & Seafood Vegetables Salad

Banana Blossom & Shredded Free Range Chicken Salad

What shall be Vietnamese without the classic Pork Spring Rolls and they find a special place on the menu as well. The Vietnamese Wok stations has a variety of options providing access to various choices of chicken, prawns, squid, beef or vegetable. There is also the steam station available too and the prawns are steamed to perfection.

Steamed fish with soya sauce

After having gorged on the salads and steam station, I kind of had a little bit off the Main course. The Grilled Duck in Galangal was tad chewy and the galangal flavor too hadn’t penetrated the meat. The Steamed fish in Soya sauce is light and soft as you slice through. The vegetarian section of the main course had Deep Fried Bean curd with eggplant and Vietnamese Wok Fried Noodles.

Grilled Duck with Galangal

As I made my way to the dessert counter, I particular dessert struck my eye. The shiny little cubes of traditional Green Bean cake. It is a simple cake but the Vietnamese hold it very close to the heart and I loved having it with a strong coffee during my travel in Vietnam. Small assorted fruit candies that Chef Nguyen had brought in from his country also featured on the counter. But you might skip almost everything but leave some space for the Chilled Longan which have been stuffed with Lotus Seeds and immersed in syrup. They are nice, light and a delightful end to a meal. Chef Nguyen has carried some of the spices, ingredients from Vietnam to make sure we experience the authentic flavors right here.

Green Bean Cake

The Vividly Vietnamese Food Festival is on at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace from 14th – 23rd August 2015. It is a chance to experience a unique, authentic and extraordinary cuisine in the city.

Chef Huang Thong Ngyuen

Seasonal Tastes - The Westin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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In recent times there has been a spurt of the so called “Multi Cuisine” restaurants. It’s like the most misused word in the F&B industry to be serving multi-cuisine. A mismatch of everything and anything stuffed into a menu like no other. And then there is the “Republic Of Noodles”, which is Multi-Asian without the Chinese. Republic of Noodles or RON as some fondly call it is the signature restaurant, part of the Lemon Tree Hotels.

Republic Of Noodles 3

The new Lemon Tree Hotel has just opened up in the financial district at Gachibowli and being near to the IT offices, we just couldn’t miss the chance to drop in at Republic of Noodles. On first glance around the place, as you enter is the beautiful and calm Buddha right in center of the restaurant with water showers around it. The light wind chimes and soft flute sounds play on in the background as you take seat. A look around, there is the various passports and visa stampings of the Asian countries. This pushes in the fact that you are not just here to eat, but go on a gastronomic journey through those what those Asian countries have to offer.

Republic Of Noodles 1

We were welcomed by Chef Binoy Xavier, the executive Chef of the Lemon Tree Hotels and Saurabh, the F&B manager. They explained the new additions to the menu and also that they specifically don’t serve Chinese but any other South-East Asian country and you definitely will be getting the most favorite food dishes here.

Starters:

Crispy Fried Chicken With Roasted Chilis 1

The menu was extensive so we were already glee with what to try seeing so many exciting dishes on offer. We started off with the Crispy Fried Chicken done in an exquisite Roasted Chili sauce. The best part being that the sauces are all hand-made and available right at your table too. So you have your Roasted Chili, Spicy Yam and Sambal sauces being provided at the table. Crispy Water Chestnuts had been perfectly blended with Plum Honey sauce all over. The chili flakes gave each bite that perfect spicy element and it was a dance of flavors then right in the mouth.

Crispy Fried Waterchestnuts

Next we moved on to the Wok Flashed Thai Garlic Pepper Prawns perfectly cooked with blend of Thai spices and a dash of pepper. Pepper flavor was more prominent and worked perfectly with this dish. One of our favorite, the Thai Chicken Satay was impressive. The creamy peanut sauce gave it the perfect crunch in every bite.

Thai Chicken Satay

We personally preferred having a pan fried version of the prawns, to feel the freshness and succulence of the sea food better. Asked the Chef Prashanth for his personal recommendation, he got us the Cambodian Stir Fried Prawns. The dish with a side of curry sauce, a bit of lime juice smeared on top and you know you got a rocking set of prawns right in front of you.

Cambodian Stir Fried Prawns With Curry Sauce

For readers in recent times of our posts, know how much we have got an affinity of having a great pork dish whenever we can. Call it a phase, but it just doesn’t seem to be passé for now. And voila, we got an order of delicious looking Pot Roasted Pork Ribs glazed with honey and Ginger Plum sauce. Preferring a crispier version though, but the ones at Republic of Noodles is first steamed and then grilled to make the meat juicier. A change from the regular ones, we’ve been having lately.

Honey Glazed Steamed And Grilled Pork Ribs

The STAR dish of the day was yet to come. Packed neatly in banana leaves in sets on five was that one gastronomical secret. As you slowly unwrap the banana leaves, there is placed a delightful looking basa fish cooked in secret Balinese spices. One dig of the knife into the fish as you slowly put a bite into the mouth and go yumm.. That’s the Banana Leaf Wrapped Grilled Fish and you can watch the unwrapping video here.

Banana Leaf Wrapped Grilled Fish with Balinese Spices

Main Courses:

From our trip through the shorelines of Vietnam, we fell in love with this superb dish, the Pho. And you can realize, the elation of seeing that as part of the menu. One of the most complete meals in one bowl. The glass noodles, the fresh kaffir lime and herbs. A tinge of tanginess from the lemon wedge, and we were down slurping it off completely.

Pho

Moving on with the passports on the walls to the next country was the Thai Green Curry. To perfectly complement the Thai Green Curry was the Jasmine Rice. A subtle flavor to it and it went perfectly paired together.

Jasmine Rice With Thai Green Curry

So more additions to go with the Jasmine Rice was the Fiery Sri Lankan Curry Fish. Considering that RON uses mostly basa for it’s preparations, so some people who can’t actually stand the after taste can actually relish it. There is none of that smell and though serving Asian food, this being a specialty dish of Republic of Noodles is part of the menus across all the outlets in Lemon Tree Hotels.

Fiery Sri Lankan Curry Fish

We had to step into erstwhile Burma, now Myanmar for some of that Khow Suey. There is a beautiful side plate of neatly arranged fried garlic, onions, vinegar and the likes. A portion of crispy noodles too is given. This is one of the must haves at Republic Of Noodles. The Khow Suey at RON is more inspired from Northern Thailand than it’s Burmese roots.

Burmese Khow Suey

The culinary journey at Republic of Noodles was extremely thrilling and enjoyable. Special thanks to Reginald Corbett and Saurabh, the FnB manager for the amazing time as a host. Chef Binoy and Chef Prashanth for the amazing food served at the tables. Below is a small video of the wisdom, which the Chefs shared with us.

Republic Of Noodles - Lemon Tree Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The first thing which comes to mind when mentioning Vietnamese cuisine is Phở. It is one simple dish which has an entire country’s food resting on its slender shoulders. When doing a trip through the landscape of Vietnam, from the North to the South, we had the opportunity to relish the history behind this simple dish and about the nation which is so crazy about it.

The First Impressions and Origins:-

The streets of Hanoi are lined from one end to the other with vendors selling Phở. The morning breakfast is incomplete without it and if you aren’t the early riser, you may as well miss the early bowl of fresh Phở. So whether pronouncing it fuh, fur, fuuhh, this is one dish which is going to leave you with a lasting impression on your Vietnam trip. And I sure had to practice and get my pronunciations right so as not to be be stopped on the street and be corrected by a local.

Hanoi Street Food

The origins of this humble dish are quite interesting. Some say that the French Officer’s lover was asked to prepare a pot-au-feu, the classic French beef stew and she couldn’t get her flavors right and use the local spices and ‘feu’ and behold the Vietnamese Dish was born.

Contrary to what I thought, Phở actually refers to the noodles and not the soup. The Northern Vietnam version i.e. Hanoi from where the dish originated usually uses the flat rice noodles and lot less ingredients than their counterparts in the South. The other necessary terms to know are the (beef) and (Chicken) so you know correctly if to order the phở bò (beef) or phở gà (chicken).

Pho Ga 1

Ingredients and Variations:-

When cruising through the streets of Hanoi, a lot of people drive their bikes right into the shops, ordering themselves a bowl and slurping it right on their bikes as they go about their day. The best way to judge Phở is by its broth. The broth should be clear and should pack a lot of flavor with the Cinnamon, Star Anise, Cloves, Cardamom and fennel, charred onions and ginger being the most essential spices. The rice noodles follow in the broth after that.

Next comes the meat. Usually in phở gà an entire chicken in used but for the phở bò the broth is usually done by simmering either the bones, oxtail or flank with the meat in the Phở when served, very minimal. When served Phở, you get a lot of herbs for garnishes on the side, but an insider secret don’t immediately go for the garnishes and actually sip the broth before messing with the dish. The herbs were usually some very interesting ones which we had not had before like the sawgrass, a quite prickly, subtly bitter and tangy at the same time. The others were the Cilantro, Culantro, Scallions, Basil, and Thai Chilies for that adding of extra spiciness and Bean Sprouts to round off that crunchiness to the Phở with a wedge of lime to provide the tangy taste. The other sauces to round off a bowl of Phở is with Hoisin, Sriracha or Vinegar which shall be provided.

Pho Ca (Fish Pho)

Is there a way to eat Phở?

There is no better way to eating Phở than being messy and it was a great learning experience. Armed with the chopsticks in one hand and soup spoon in the other, the best way is to sip the broth first as you work your way with the noodles with the chopsticks. I was told it’s actually polite to slurp as deliciously as you like with your mouth close to the bowl, so that all the aroma hits you right through.

Important Pointers:

  1. The first lesson from a local was to control the urge to splatter my Phở with the sauces and keep it a minimal and then dash it the flavors accordingly to the taste. Phở is best when sticking to its minimalistic flavors.
  2. The next best thing was I could actually slurp and lick the end of the bowl without anyone so much as giving me the stares. In fact it is considered polite to do that and compliments the chef.
  3. A Phở is nothing without its broth, its entire life and soul. So the best is to give the Phở its necessary due before messing with its basic flavors.

Fresh Pho

A dish so simple and a dish packing in it so much exquisiteness in flavor, it definitely holds true to have been redefining Vietnamese Cuisine. Unless you’ve done your research, probably the first dish out of your mouth when mentioning Vietnam would be Phở and yes it is so much worth when had first-hand. Phở has gone global and so has its humble origins. There are a lot more restaurants serving this spectacular dish with Phở 24, being most notable among them, but the best Phở is served by the family run establishments along the streets of Hanoi.

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