NU is New

Asian fu­sion cui­sine with a splash of drama

Oi Vietnam - - Wine & Dine - Text by Wes Grover Im­ages by Ngoc Tran and NU

THERE’S A FLAIR FOR THE dra­matic and cre­ativ­ity that’s on full dis­play as soon as you walk into the newly opened NU Bistro (2nd floor, 25 Ho Tung Mau, D1). Sit­u­ated just off Ham Nghi and up a small stair­case, the main doors open to a col­or­ful set­ting of old French ar­chi­tec­ture and dec­o­ra­tive art in­spired by Chi­nois­erie cul­ture that fore­shad­ows the unique fu­sion dishes found on their in­no­va­tive menu.

Large mint green col­umns, ex­posed white brick walls, and a sprawl­ing mu­ral of a wo­man with pea­cock feath­ers flow­ing in her hair de­fine the invit­ing space, with mod­ern fur­nish­ing that’s both stylish and com­fort­able. Open seven days a week from 10am to mid­night, NU has a re­fined at­mos­phere that’s equally ap­pro­pri­ate for any­thing from a ca­sual Sun­day brunch to el­e­gant af­ter­noon tea. On this par­tic­u­lar oc­ca­sion, how­ever, we’re vis­it­ing to ex­plore their en­tic­ing din­ner fare. The staff are friendly and attentive, the dimmed lights cre­ate a cozy, evening at­mos­phere, and the full bar beck­ons as we set­tle into our ta­ble.

Start­ing with a round of drinks, we nav­i­gate their ex­ten­sive list of clas­sic cock­tails be­fore land­ing on the sig­na­ture C’est La Vie (VND170,000), a thought­fully pre­pared cocktail of cachaça, red grapes, lime and sugar, as well as a pot of their ly­chee and grape iced tea (VND130,000), both of which ar­rive in re­mark­able fash­ion. The C’est La Vie comes en­sconced in a glass dome that traps dry ice spew­ing smoke from out of the coaster and holds a bev­er­age that pleas­antly walks the line be­tween sweet, bit­ter and a spir­ited bite. The tea, too, is pre­sented with dry ice em­a­nat­ing from the pot, which holds a fresh and fruity con­coc­tion that fur­thers the restau­rant’s knack for dra­matic pre­sen­ta­tion.

Be­fore long, our ap­pe­tiz­ers ar­rive and we em­bark on a culi­nary fu­sion of East and West with a cauliflower co­conut soup (VND80,000) that’s gar­nished with a flaky home­made pas­try hold­ing bits of ba­con. The thick, pureed broth is creamy, yet still light and del­i­cately fla­vored with a touch of onion.

Next was a frisée aux lar­dons salad with ba­con (VND130,000) of am­ple por­tion. A deep fried filo egg at the cen­ter pro­vided a tasty crunch, while the yoke was still runny enough to mix in with the thick-cut, crispy ba­con and as­sort­ment of veg­gies that in­cluded cherry toma­toes, radishes, and car­rots.

Pol­ish­ing off our starters, we tran­si­tioned into the main course with a mag­nif­i­cent pan seared duck breast with Huyet long black rice (VND220,000). Lightly sea­soned, the suc­cu­lent duck comes paired with a tart Viet­namese mul­berry sauce that rounds out the fla­vor­ful dish, com­ple­mented with baby car­rots and healthy lo­tus seed pods mixed into the rice.

At the man­ager’s rec­om­men­da­tion, we couldn’t pass up on the tagli­atelle with am­a­tri­ciana sauce (VND170,000), a house fa­vorite that did not dis­ap­point. Served per­fectly al dente, the fresh pasta was mixed into the rich, red sauce with large chunks of spicy Viet­namese sausage, giv­ing a de­li­cious lo­cal twist to the clas­sic Ital­ian dish.

By this point, we were com­fort­ably full, but af­ter eat­ing our way through the fla­vor­ful sur­prises and cre­ative takes of each course, we felt pass­ing up on dessert would be woe­fully regrettable. And so, we found our­selves plung­ing into a deca­dently lay­ered ti­ramisu (VND120,000) that, nat­u­rally, is pre­sented in its own unique way. Served in a small clay pot with a choco­late crum­ble on top and Bai­ley’s sauce in­side, the dessert ar­rived with a small saucer of sweet cream to pour over and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, pro­vid­ing just the right way to end our evening at NU Bistro.

Frisee salad

Clock­wise from top left: Cauliflower soup, Duck breast, Ti­ramisu, Am­a­tri­ciana pasta

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