Sunday, 13/08/2023 10:00

Senté brings passion and creativity together

By Hamy Nguyễn

As all food enthusiasts are aware, Michelin Guide announced the Michelin Selected list in June 2023, featuring 70 restaurants from North to South Việt Nam. Since that moment I, with an adventurous palate and a soul eager to seek out novelties in my culinary journey, have embarked on a new challenge: to visit all the selected restaurants.

Not only almost all the dishes at Senté have been created using lotus flower components, but its decor also features a large mosaic painting of lotus. — VNS Photos Hamy Nguyễn

This time, I tried Senté on Nguyễn Quang Bích Street. The first thing that impressed me was the restaurant's architecture. The entrance to Senté is through a small and deep alley, typical of the Old Quarter in Hà Nội.

At the end of the alley, a surprising green space unfolds, with a lotus pond and a two-storey ancient villa with yellow walls and blue shutters. Instantly, all the hustle and bustle outside seemed to fade away, leaving a sense of tranquillity.

Senté milk tea.

I chose a table by the window, which was placed on the second floor. Having tried Vietnamese cuisine in many different places, I was curious to see what Senté had to offer. And my question was answered as I opened the menu.

Almost all the dishes at Senté have been created using lotus flower components and have innovative variations inspired by various Asian cuisines, not just Vietnamese.

It's challenging to use a single word to describe Senté's culinary style, but I thought the initial emotion upon seeing the menu was one of awe, thanks to its creativity. The menu felt like an adventurous journey with different ingredients, in stark contrast to the traditional and ancient ambiance we initially encountered.

After waiting for about 10 minutes, enjoying the ancient paintings hanging on the walls, gently swaying along to some acoustic tunes, my Senté milk tea (Oolong lotus tea, lotus milk, pandan jelly and lotus pearls, VNĐ55,000) arrived. The drink had a delicate aroma of lotus and refreshing Oolong tea, lightly sweetened and with just a little ice.

What truly impressed me was the lotus seed boba. It was still a chewy boba with a tapioca outer layer, but inside, there were plump and tender lotus seeds. The contrast between the two layers created a delightful surprise. However, the amount was not much, making it more of a sip-and-enjoy beverage rather than a thirst-quencher.

Shrimp, pomelo flesh and lotus root salad.

The next dish served was the 'Shrimp, pomelo flesh and lotus root salad' (VNĐ145,000). The basic ingredients were there – pomelo flesh, shrimp, and lotus roots – but the dressing was well-balanced. I appreciated how the pomelo flesh was cut into bite-sized pieces, ensuring it wasn't crushed when mixed, and retained its juiciness when bitten into.

I decided to satisfy my hunger with the house specialty – 'Black rice in lotus leaf with grilled Australian short rib beef & salted quail eggs' (VNĐ135,000). The rice was wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed, which took a bit of time. I waited around 40 minutes for this dish.

Black rice in lotus leaf with grilled Australian short rib beef & salted quail eggs.

As I took my first bite, I was greeted with a burst of flavours that danced harmoniously in my mouth; what immediately stood out and deserves a mention is the glutinous rice at Senté, which was sticky, fragrant, and had a sweet aftertaste when thoroughly chewed, almost like eating sticky rice, but not quite.

Wrapped inside the rice were pieces of braised pork ribs, boneless and thinly sliced, steamed with lotus seeds and various types of beans. Perhaps that's why the rice was absorbed with a pleasant sweetness. The salted quail egg on top of the rice, although a side dish, was also meticulously prepared, preserving the intact yolk. Overall, each bite was a symphony of flavours, leaving me craving more.

It was a small solo experience, but the staff were very friendly, and the food gave me a sense of comforting familiarity with a touch of novelty mixed in, making me excited to explore more. I will undoubtedly return to try other dishes at this simple, delicious and creative restaurant. VNS

Senté The flavour of lotus

Addresses:   20 Nguyễn Quang Bích Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội

                     12 Liễu Giai Street, Ba Đình District, Hà Nội

Price: from VNĐ45,000–360,000

Comment: Traditional, delicate decor. Delightful healthy food creations.

Comments (0)

Related content