Sunday, 20/11/2022 10:00

A new Chapter in Hà Nội’s upscale dining scene

By Thúy Hằng

About a decade ago, fine-dining restaurants were only found in five-star hotels in Hà Nội. With the booming food scene and numerous upscale dining outlets opened in recent years, gourmands no longer have difficulty finding a place outside the luxury hotels.

Gỏi tôm sú (Raw prawn). — VNS Photo Thúy Hằng

New(ish) to this market is Chapter Grill & Dining. Although it opened last December, I only heard about it last Friday when my friend invited me for dinner there.

The simple yet elegant decor of Chapter. — VNS Photo Thúy Hằng

After stepping inside the restaurant, I was impressed by its sleek yet stylish interior décor. The venue is lit with soft yellow light. Chefs were busy working in an open kitchen that covers almost the entire first-floor area, as a couple sitting by the kitchen enjoy their dinner while watching the cooking.

Our reserved table was among the four tables for two on the second floor. Both warm and cold tones, such as yellow, orange, brown and grey, have been used, and abstract paintings and nutshell flowers are displayed on every marble table amid the grey-painted walls.

A selection of three bite-sized entrees: ricotta cheese, garoupa, and slow-cooked duck. — VNS Photo Thúy Hằng

After we settled, a waitress introduced us to the menu. Food creations have been presented in five chapters: Fresh & Clean (starters), From the Garden (salad), From the Ocean (seafood), From the Land (meat and poultry), and From Heaven (dessert). However, each Chapter features very few options, from four to nine dishes.

In addition, they also have set menus, which are priced at VNĐ2million and VNĐ2.6million, featuring dishes from all five Chapters. While my friend wanted to taste the set menu, I thought it was too much for me and decided to have an à la carte menu.

However, the waitress suggested we either have the set menu or place an order from the à la carte menu to avoid a long wait. Although we didn't think this made sense, we took her suggestion – we would both have an à la carte menu.

Gỏi bụng cá ngừ vây xanh (Otoro). — VNS Photo Thúy Hằng

After placing our orders, we were served an entree plate – a selection of three bite-sized pieces of ricotta cheese, garoupa, and slow-cooked duck placed on a bed of red beans, which the waitress was careful to warn us were for decoration only. The appetizers, although relatively small, contain a bunch of enticing flavours. We both were won over by this tempting “warming up”.

The waitress continued to serve us our starters. I had Gỏi bụng cá ngừ vây xanh (Otoro, VNĐ690,000), while my friend has Gỏi tôm sú (Raw prawn, VNĐ400,000) – both were artfully arranged.

A thin layer of avocado puree covered the small cubes of medium fatty tuna with kombu seaweed, apple, and smoked ikura (or salmon roe). The thin and transparent Japanese-styled soy sauce shoyu made the dish distinctive from any other version of tuna tartare that I’ve tried before.

I also try a prawn from my friend’s plate. Unlike its name, the prawn was not entirely raw. I guess the chef used a kitchen torch for the prawn, creating a pleasant grilled smell. The yuzu citrus sauce was also great -- zesty, light, and refreshing. Compared to my starter, I preferred my friend’s one, from the presentation to the taste.

Đông Tảo Chicken Feet. — VNS Photo Thúy Hằng

For the main course, I had Đông Tảo Chicken Feet  (VNĐ490,000) as I was curious about how the chef handles an ingredient that is rare in fine-dining cuisine. It is the restaurant's best-selling dish.

The deboned chicken feet stuffed with chorizo sausage – an exciting combination of a popular local and Western ingredient – presents a pleasant BBQ smell and tangy and lightly spicy flavour.

For local Vietnamese, who are used to cooking and eating chicken feet, this is definitely something worth trying. But, I think the dish (maybe) isn’t good for Westerners. Much bigger than your standard chicken feet, the Đông Tảo Feet contain enormous tendons, meaning they are chewier.

My friend’s choice for the main course was Há cảo nhân tủy bò (Beef marrow dumpling, VNĐ450,000). When we scanned the menu earlier, my eyes stopped at this dish, but I recently decided to quit beef, so I didn't bother with it. My friend would have it instead. She said it was great but below her expectation for a fine food creation.

Nếp cẩm (Purple rice). — VNS Photo Thúy Hằng

Before we placed an order for dessert, the waitress informed us that we would be given a free dessert because the kitchen was bustling, and they wanted to make it up for our patience, which was a nice touch.

We decided to have Nếp cẩm (Purple rice, VNĐ220,000) for me and Mille-feuille (VNĐ250,000) for my friend.

Unlike the traditional version, in the Chapter’s version, the purple rice is cooked with milk creating a buttery flavour. The dessert is completed with a scoop of yogurt ice cream on top, dots of chocolate and chopped strawberry scattered around, and pink pomegranate and green mint oil perfecting the presentation. Wow. I’ve never enjoyed any purple rice like this before. I am craving more just thinking about it.

Mille-feuille with pistachio, mango, and vanilla ice cream. — VNS Photo Thúy Hằng

My friend also is happy with her beautiful Mille-feuille with pistachio, mango, and vanilla ice cream.

With our impressions so far, we want to return to try other dishes at Chapter again. We were told the restaurant has a special menu for special occasions, and the next one is for Christmas and New Year. So we have a reason to go back soon! VNS


Chapter Grill & Dining

Address: 12C Chân Cầm St, Hoàn Kiếm Dist, Hà Nội

Hotline: 033 320 1221

Website: www.chaptergrill.vn

Opening hour: Open for dinner only, from 6.30pm on Tuesday-Sunday. Closed on Monday. Reserving a table in advance is recommended.

Comment: Fine dining ambience with A reasonable price. Elegant décor. Innovative, artful, and delicious food creations.

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