Friday, December 24, 2010

Le Rabelais, Dalat Palace Hotel, Vietnam

Friday, December 24, 2010

Can you believe it's Christmas Eve today? I guess the festivities make for a good time to share my last Vietnam post on a truly splendid restaurant and hotel M brought me to during the trip. The Dalat Palace hotel is almost a historical monument in itself, first built in the 1920s and beautifully restored by the American Tycoon Larry Hillblom (the H in DHL, by the way) in 1993. The theme is splendour and grandeur, from everything down to the paintings along the corridors. We didn't stay there, but it was still a feast for the eyes. The French restaurant within, Le Rabelais, has long been touted as the finest in the region (with prices to match), and proudly serves a menu created by 5 Stars Diamond Award French Master Chef Didier Colou, one of the most celebrated Chefs in Vietnam. Ingredients are sourced from the freshest Dalat produce, and subtle Vietnamese influences brings out a unique slant in each course.

Complimentary Bread

The waiting staff were impeccable, and when M murmured that the 8 course menu is a lot of food, the waiter surprised us with his honest opinion, "yes, you might not be able to finish everything." In the end, we took just one 8 course set and an additional main, and was very glad we made the rational decision (without being made to feel bad for not ordering a set each).

Le Rabelais Amuse Bouche
Amuse-bouche of Mango Puree and Grilled Minced Pork

Chef Didier Colou describes himself as a French Chef with a Vietnamese advantage, and it shows. The amuse-bouche of Mango Puree and Grilled Minced Pork worked very well in terms of flavours, and the presentation of the Grilled Minced Pork on a traditional Vietnamese-style spoon was fun and effective. Might I add that it was a lovely and generous gesture for them to serve us two amuse-bouche even though we only ordered one set. The service was truly impeccable.

Le Rabelais Green Asparagus Soup, Vanilla
Le Rabelais Green Asparagus Soup, Vanilla
Green Asparagus Soup, Vanilla

A lovely cream of asparagus made interesting with an additional touch. What initially looked like cream turned out to be a scoop of egg white clumps (or at least that's what it tasted like) that went exceptionally well with the soup.

La Rabelais Scallop, Clams, and Dalat Artichoke with Curry Cream Sauce
Scallop, Clams, and Dalat Artichoke with Curry Cream Sauce

This was my first time eating an artichoke, and honestly I was a little lost. How many of you really knows how to eat an artichoke? The curry cream sauce was both special and delicious - thin enough to work for the dish, but full-bodied nevertheless. The scallop was wonderfully fresh. So were the clams, which tasted really great with the sauce.

Le Rabelais Foie Gras
Pan-fried Foie Gras with Artichoke and Black Olive and Dried Fruit Sauce

Pan-fried Foie Gras - possibly the hardest dish to go wrong with, but a dish whose full potential isn't always realised. Fret not, the rendition here consisting of chopped black olives and artichoke coupled with the intensely creamy foie gras and semi-sweet dried fruit sauce was an amazing combination. I half-wished the foie gras had more crisp on the outside, but this was still an excellent dish.

Seabass with Caviar and Red Bell Pepper Coulis Sauce

The Seabass was delicious - fresh, tender and cooked to perfection. Even M, the anti-fish, loved it. The Red Bell Pepper Coulis Sauce had just the right consistency that went well with the Seabass. The pasta tasted skillfully home-made and had a great texture (beyond just al dente).

Le Rabelais Rolled Pork
Rolled Pork Fillet and Olive Oil Pasta with Mustard Cream Sauce

This was the additional main we ordered. The pasta here is exactly the same as that for the Seabass. The mustard cream sauce was very good - creamy with just the right amount of sharpness from the mustard. The rolled pork fillet, on the other hand, while tasty, was a little dry, and certainly the most lackluster dish of the night.

Seasonal Dalat Vegetables

The requisite greens tasted better than it looked. The carrots were wonderfully sweet and the bell peppers had a nice crunch.

Lamb Cutlet in Balsamic and Honey Sauce with Mashed Potatoes

I'm starting to find myself quite the lamb fan, and this didn't disappoint. The sauce is again excellent, and the meat was flavourful and quite simply everything you'd love a lamb for (though just a little bit tough).

Fresh Goat Cheese with East Asian Truffles and Cocoa with Spices

The pungent goat cheese was perfect with the cocoa. The truffle was hardly distinguishable though.

Half Cook Chocolate Cake with Pistachio Ice-Cream

So ingenious. The molten chocolate cake is nothing new, but adding a scoop of pistachio ice-cream on top of it makes it something else instantly. Not forgetting the cheese cube on top of the ice-cream, which is such an interesting touch. The pistachio flavoured salt sprinkled around the cake helps bring the chocolate to even higher levels. An excellent finish to an excellent dinner!

Le Rabelais
12 Tran Phu Street
Dalat, Vietnam

Other Vietnam Posts
Itinerary: Saigon and Dalat in 5 Days
Street Food in Saigon, Vietnam
Pho Hoa, Saigon, Vietnam
Fanny, Saigon, Vietnam
Quan An Ngon, Saigon, Vietnam
Com Nieu, Saigon, Vietnam
Cha Ca La Vong, Saigon, Vietnam
Dalat Street Food - As Fresh As It Gets, Vietnam
Trong Dong, Dalat, Vietnam
Tau Cao Wanton Noodles, Dalat, Vietnam

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Leave a comment (2)

  1. Hi, I would like to know how much did you cost for this dinner? For 2 persons? I am going there alone but would love to try this restaurant.


  2. Hi moo de flâneur, the 8-course set was US$85 per pax. Cheers!


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