ALL THAT GLITTERS: The melt-on-your-palate gold jelly puts a perfect end to a wonderful dinner. VNS Photos Mỹ Hà
by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà
I would never have walked into the Dolce at Wyndham Hanoi Golden Lake if it weren’t for a dinner I had planned with extended family. Dubbed the Gold Hotel, the Dolce is famous for its gold-coated walls, if seen from outside, or ornate gold decoration in the lobby and other places, including tableware and other necessities.
There’s no defining line about how much gold is enough to assert wealth and class, but too much certainly seems something for shallow show-off brats.
Showing off was exactly what came to my mind when we entered the lobby, where it seemed there was always someone or some team working on a photo shoot. We sighed in relief when we finally got into a private dining room by the larger hall.
The aura inside was the total opposite of what was outside, these days before the biggest holidays of the year, Tết (Lunar New Year), where traffic jams up even the biggest tree-lined streets in downtown Hà Nội. By Giảng Võ Lake, where the Gold Hotel is located, a recreation centre of the city, it was even more chaotic.
Wyndham has three restaurants on its premises, which besides its expensive gold-sprinkled à la carte menus, also offer lunch (VNĐ550,000) and dinner (VNĐ800,000) buffets.
ITALIAN CLASSIC: The spaghetti bolognese will impress even the pickiest little eaters.
The most famous is the F29 Golden Beef restaurant, where you get served the best steaks money can buy, including Japanese Kobe ribeye or fat Wagyu tomahawks. It’s a place that deserves a review of its own by a gourmet steak expert.
The gold lighting in the limited yet spacious dining area gives a warmer, happier glow than regular light. In fact, both the lighting and gold tableware comforted us. More so did the golden basket of bread on the table. The mini bread made for a great starter with its reddish creamy beetroot butter.
BAKERY BASKET: Fresh crispy bread on the table.
Next came a garden salad, a great mix of crispy lettuces and herbs and dressing, an ideal palate refresher. After that, the waiter brought a large plate with halves of sandwiches filled with rich truffle pâté.
The little sandwich was soft and smooth like velvet, and the strong flavours of the precious fungi stood out with its earthy smell of a vast damp jungle sneaking into the room, and then… gone. Quickly as it came, it vanished.
RED RELISH: The beautiful reddish butter coloured by beetroot and pepper served in gold-rimmed butter bowl.
Other dishes we had, included the classic spaghetti bolognese (VNĐ270,000), which was very good. And the juicy steak we had was a USDA-certified ribeye (VNĐ870,000), with mushroom sauce and assorted vegetables, cooked perfectly medium-rare. My kid wished she could have some mash on the side, or a baked potato even better.
FUNGI FLAVOURED: Truffle pate sandwich was a great meal enhancer after some cold and hot appetizers.
As our talking slowly dwindled toward the end of the meal, we felt great that we had survived dining here without falling for the dubious charms of any of the gold-leafed steaks or gold-sprinkled hakau. We were doing so well, not lavishing on anything tacky like sliced meat coated in gold. The restaurant has a dish on the menu, black hakau shrimp dumplings, listed as 24K gold-wrapped steamed shrimp dumplings at VNĐ116,000 a piece. We didn’t have that either.
But, in the end, our gold moment came with dessert: the 24K black herbal pudding (VNĐ160,000). The jelly looked beautiful with its striking black-gold colours, though you needed to generously pour honey to your liking, as the jelly tasted a little bitter without it.
When you start spooning up the jelly and the gold twinkles in the black water, it gently jiggles as if you’re sitting by a moonlit lake trying to catch the moon’s reflection on a mid-Autumn festival night.
It makes the jelly tastes better, as its bitter-sweet flavours resemble that of real life, as if tasting real lake water, though that would surely send you directly to the doctor.
Wishing a very happy Tết to all! VNS
MEATY GOODNESS: The tender USDA-certified ribeye medium rare tastes as good as it looks.