Monday, 30/10/2017 14:56

Dining in style at the T-Art

Delicious: Pana cota with raspberry. — VNS Photo My Ha
Viet Nam News

By Nguyen My Ha

I judge a restaurant by how it serves a glass of water. Recently, I found myself waiting for my lunch companion to arrive sipping a simple glass of water through a straw. And it tasted good. It had a few drops of lemon juice in it to soften the otherwise bland drink.

Newly opened in a gourmet street in Bat Dan in Ha Noi’s Old Quarter, T-Art competes against big names in the city’s gastronomy trade. The legendary Pho xao Bat Dan and Pho Bat Dan are just across the street and people stand in line to wait their turn.

Some find it unbelievable that people stand in line, but it’s true. It’s a tradition left from the days of the state-subsidised economy, when even pho became a common commodity and a co-operative was formed to serve it.

Long gone are those days, but the custom remains. The owner of T-Art was quite bold to open a fusion style restaurant in the cradle of great street food — and at a very competitive price.

T-Art is every thing different: its new, its stylish and serves food on the upper scale of restauration. And the prices are not too discriminating.

Afer the refreshing glass of water, I started to look around. The dining room was mid-size, urban contemporary designed and lit. Quite cosy.

White roses: The shrimp scallion cakes are a Hoi An delicacy. — VNS Photo My Ha
Seared: Salmon steak, rather small for big eaters. — VNS Photo My Ha
Trio: The three soups at T-Art. — VNS Photo My Ha

We all had soups for starter. There were three options: pumpkin soup (VND70,000) , shrimp soup French style (VND90,000) and crab meat soup with boiled quail egg (VND119,000) Vietnamese style. The shrimp soup was really nice, comforting and mild taste. I’ve never had crab soup with quail egg before, so it was a nice surprise and the taste did not disappoint.

The shrimp scallion cakes (VND60,000) can be a good choice to start with. They looked like white roses from Hoi An to me as the stuffing was wrapped in manioc dough before being steamed. The size was manageable and the taste very good.

For main course, and to attract urban youths and office-workers into the downtown area, the menu offers exclusive imported beef steaks and seared salmon steak. There are two sauce options to go with the beef — green pepper or mushroom sauce. I was not particular keen on having the whole beef steak (160gr for VND369,000 or 100gr at VND278,000) for lunch, so we shared one portion and the waiter curteously had it shared on two plates for us.

I tried the salmon steak (VND230,000) on another trip to T-Art and found it average. Well, nothing to complain about, but not a jaw-dropping experience.

The difference between imported beef and local beef stays with the chewy level of the meat. Imported beef from Australia and the United States tends to be quite tender. Traditional local beef steak houses have to pound the beef quite heavily before searing it for customers.

So T-Art invented a new way of serving local beef steak (VND90,000) — making the portions much smaller. You get three little rounds of beef on a plate. So it’s perfect for an amateur steak diner like me, because I prefer the strong taste of local beef to the more bland taste of imported beef. It’s the best of both worlds — manageable size and more well-done than imported meat.

My companion had the mushroom-stuffed chicken breast (VND129,000), a delicate work consumed with mashed lotus seeds and stir-fried. The risk of cooking this is that it can be quite dry if over-done. I was glad it was just right. This dish comes in a set menu with crab soup and brown rice with red beans. The rice bean combination (VND60,000) was so good with a dash of golden fried onions.

For deserts, T-Art offers velvet cheese cake with vanilla chantilly cream, chocolate mousse with green apples, cherry in red wine and sesame cake with chantilly cream at VND70 each. We chose pana cota with raspberry,  which was soft, cold and sour sweet, and perfect to end a long business lunch.

I will definitely go back for the food and for the service and ambience, and of course, for its convenient location. VNS

The T-Art Restaurant

46b Bat Dan, Ha Noi,

Tel: 024-3875-4646 

Comment: Good fusion food in the heart of Old Quarter


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