Elijah Ferrian escapes with the central coast cuisine of Hue at a gorgeous rooftop newcomer to Saigon’s restaurant scene. Photos by Jonny Edbrooke.
Everyone knows that Vietnam is all about regional cuisine. There’s Northern, Central and Southern famous dishes, and with each region comes even further separation between different cities and areas. The food from Hue is known nationally as some of the best.
This is exactly what Tran Dinh Huy is trying to convey with his newest restaurant The Hue House. Tran, owner of Secret Garden and Mountain Retreat, loves to develop consistent themes at all of his locations.
“Many restaurants are all about showcasing Vietnamese food, but there’s not really many dedicated restaurants for central [region] food in Ho Chi Minh City.”
If you’re new to Hue cuisine, perhaps the best way to think about it is like Vietnamese tapas. It might be the perfect food to be introduced to the simple style of preparation, yet complex and deeply satisfying palette of flavour that Vietnamese cooking brandishes.
The dishes from Hue regularly delight both traveler and local cravings alike, quickly becoming favourites due to the food’s approachability, and perfect pairing with rounds of beer.
The space is authentic as one could possibly make on a rooftop-garden-patio restaurant emulating a historical city. How on earth did they accomplish such a feat?
They bought an old house from Hue and installed it on the roof of the Master building on Trao Can Van. It’s seriously beautiful, and with the spectacular views of the surrounding cityscape, a sunset viewing experience one would easily pay a premium for, rooftop aficionados will be hard-pressed to find a better place to anchor themselves for the evening. On to the food:
Banh bot loc (VND80,000), rice dumpling cakes stuffed with shrimp and pork, are one of the best appetizers in Vietnam. Savoury meat-filled tapioca dumplings dipped in sweet chilli-fish sauce and washed down with Huda beer – there may be nothing more ideal for the beginning of a feast.
Banh da and tom chay (VND80,000), rice crackers topped with minced dried shrimp and whole, fresh shrimp, fried shallot served with a side of pineapple fish sauce giving a delectable crunch, while remaining light and shareable.
Mit tron (VND95,000), a young jackfruit salad co-starring Vietnamese mint, chilli paste, fish sauce, pork belly and shrimp. Cuon diep (VND95,000) mustard leaf wraps with shrimp and pork belly are a central region staple, and they are well-presented here.
The Hue House, among a score of other shareable spreads that will keep a romantic couple, or raucous band of after-work friends, enjoying themselves well beyond the point when the sun dips its orange luminescence below the horizon.
The Hue House has high-quality, authentic Central cuisine at extremely fair prices for the location. The design and concept is well executed, and if you are all about rooftop dining and drinking, you might have a new favourite spot in town.