'Clean' lotus given a twist
Summer comes to town bringing a wonderful retreat, lotus. With ingredients from ponds of lotus in blossom, the chefs make various delicacies. Minh Thu breathes in charming fragrance of lotus dishes at Senté.
|FINE DINING: At Senté, gourmands indulge in a space full of lotus scents and tastes. Photo courtesy of the restaurant|
Senté is located right next to the hustle and bustle of Hang Da Market in downtown Hanoi but is nonetheless a tranquil hideaway inside an old villa. The entry to the patio is lined with many trees, and heading indoors is like taking a stroll through nature.
|Jicama salad, grilled chicken breast and lotus stem. VNS Photo Kim Chi|
It’s also a paradise for anyone who loves lotus. The name of the restaurant hints at the passion for the flower, as lotus is “sen” in Vietnamese. Now is summer - the season of the lotus blossom - and they occupy all corners of the restaurant, displayed in pots, baskets, and jars and creating an unobtrusive scene for gourmands who like to check in on social media before enjoying a feast of lotus dishes.
The restaurant and its delicacies are initiated from a very simple ingredient - lotus juice. Its founders, a group of friends, love eating and drinking “clean” and are fond of lotus juice, which is natural and healthy and extracted and cooked from lotus seeds. They selected lotus seeds from Hue, which are praised for their fragrance and taste.
According to our waitress, 250ml of lotus juice requires that 1kg of lotus seeds be cooked in 2.5 litres of water.
“Senté was born because we don’t want to waste the lotus seeds,” she said.
The owners carefully researched how to effectively use other parts of the lotus plant to cook delicious dishes that are also appealing and healthy.
They wanted to name the restaurant after the word for lotus in Vietnamese, “sen”, so decided on Senté, as it’s pronounced similarly to santé in French, which means health.
Following its slogan of eating clean to have a healthy lifestyle, other ingredients used include quinoa, brown rice, beans, herbs, and sesame. Dishes are not necessarily eye-catching but are certainly good for the health.
We began our meal with two appetisers: crispy lotus roots and steamed egg with mushroom, and lotus seeds cooked in a Japanese style.
|DIVERSE TREAT: Brown rice served with grilled eel and fried lotus roots. VNS Photo Kim Chi|
I recommend the special unagi sushi at Senté, made of brown rice topped with grilled eel with teriyaki sauce and avocado. The sushi rolls are served with lotus seeds and scallop sauce. It’s a harmony between the taste of the grilled eel, the buttery avocado, and the rich sauce.
The best option for a salad is jicama mixed with grilled chicken breast and lotus stems. The slices of jicama are fresh and sweet while the lotus stems are firm and juicy.
Another must-try dish is steamed brown rice with lotus seeds and salty quail eggs. The dish is eye-catching - wrapped in a lotus leaf like a blooming lotus flower. The rice is well-done, preserving the buttery taste of the lotus seeds.
If you’re on a low-carb diet, you can choose vermicelli mixed with lotus stems and braised Australian ribs. It’s a balance of protein, vegetables, and starch. The dressing is sweet and sour - typical for a cool dish prepared in the southern Vietnamese culinary style.
Though the menu is full of attractive lotus delicacies, you should save a place for dessert. Chè sen nhãn lồng (lotus seed and longan sweet soup) is the most popular dessert made from lotus, and is a cool retreat from the summer. VNS
Add: 20 Nguyễn Quang Bích St, Hoàn Kiếm Dist, Hà Nội
Tel: 0911 048 920
Time: 9.15am - 10pm
Comments: Rich menu with delicacies made from lotus, nice and green place for lunch, brunch and dinner
Spiny lobster is a required dish for me when I visit the coastal city of Nha Trang because it’s always fresher than elsewhere.
The lotus is considered the flower that represents the best of the Vietnamese people, symbolising purity and strong will to overcome challenges.