Food, glorious food in Dalat!

Dalat is a place rich in history: all the prominent figures of the colonial past of Vietnam chose to have their summer residence in the flower city, which has been able to maintain some of its charm and history, offering a glimpse to a glorious past, albeit modernization has transformed parts of it into a concrete jungle. Dalat has been blessed with a pleasant climate, ensuring all year long more or less the same mild temperature.

The Dalat highlands are known for the large variety of vegetables and fruits coming form its fertile land.This is the largest vegetable production zone in the country, with about 50,000 ha of vegetables planted annually and 1.7 million tonnes produced.

One of the resorts in Dalat, the Ana Mandara Villas Resort and Spa is famous for representing the beautiful food products of the region. The resort is a true paradise for the senses where the taste of bygone days comes to life again in the French-style colonial villas, perched on the side of a pine-tree covered hill, with flowers, birds, butterflies and an unbelievably quiet environment.The restaurant, Le Petit Dalat, features Vietnamese and Western specialties alike.

It is located in one of the villas, offering views over the graciously maintained garden. The chef’s sapient use of local ingredients is a feast for the most demanding taste buds: the highly recognized and appreciated international cuisine featureslocal meat and fish,such as pork and sturgeon, vegetables such as small, sweet zucchini, dishes with avocado, artichoke soups, Australian beef, home made ice cream and fresh strawberries. The hotel has an adorableorganic garden; herbs come fresh to the kitchen, as do some vegetables, an indication of how seriously food is taken in the resort. Of course, what the garden doesn’t provide, the surrounding farms do.

The menu, which is truly inviting, often impresses locals and foreign clientele alike and the presentation of the dishes is brilliant. Mr Nguyen Van Vo, the GM at the Ana Mandara said that especially Europeans tend to be impressed: “Its’ not only the food, but the combination of a clean and fresh environment paired with excellent food; our guests appreciate that and we’re happy to be a favourite getaway destination also for expats living in Saigon who just want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. What we try to achieve is that our guests can really relax and feel at home, not having to worry about anything. That’s why we also have a designated butler for each of our guests, ready to assist at any time.”

Ms Nguyen Thi Hoan Minh, sales and marketing manager said the resort is really focussing on giving good experiences, something to remember: “To have a place like this takes a lot of care and attention in order to staytrue to the original. We have more than 20 persons employed fulltime for the maintenance of the villas only. The spirit of the beginning of last century is really precious and every single villa is different and has a different story to tell.”

The icing on the cake is a dinner experience in the so-called wine cellar, located in the attic of the main restaurant room. A special chef’s menu is served, which can be personalised according to guests’ preference. The wine cellar features visible, large beams, wine bottles all around, a pleasant temperature and a sturdy, wooden table and high chairs. Attention is paid to tailor the quality of the service to the location; the food served is top-notch quality. It can well be one of the most memorable dining experiences ever, the result of hard teamwork and passion for the job.

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