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Charm Palace Restaurant at Flamingo Resort: Chayote Heaven

Nguyen Quang Hiep is a chef who was so impressed with the local ingredients in his place that he decided to create a one-of-a-kind set of dishes from one of the popular plants in the highlands region, the chayote.

Hiep is the chef at Charm Palace and Bamboo Wings, two of the three restaurants of Flamingo Dai Lai Resort, a five-star resort located at the mountainous region of Northern Dai Lai Lake. Beach is the other restaurant at the resort which recently opened in March. Flamingo Resort is designed with top-of-the-line architecture and global-standard services and facilities. In fact, Bamboo Wings Restaurant was awarded the United States International Architecture Award (IAA) in 2011. It was designed by Vo Trong Nghia with a large seating capacity of 300 people.

Flamingo Resort is located at Northern Vinh Phuc Province, the place where chayote originally came from. Charm Palace Restaurant is located on top of the hill whose local specialty is chayote dishes. It is no wonder then that the plant is famous in the area and Chef Hiep was particularly interested in developing dishes from it.

Chayote Cream Soup is one of the dishes that Hiep formulated out of the famous plant. It is a cool and pleasing dish with its light green color of the soup and white layer cream on top. The taste is sweet and its smell aromatic. European cream, butter and bay leaves are added to create balance to the whole dish. It costs VND68,000 (US$3).

The Chayote Salad is composed of chayote bud and salted beef wherein the former is deep-blanched in cold water and then marinated with the latter. The dish is served with marjoram, fennel and coriander. But the salad can be played around with by adding some herbs for seasoning, giving the dish a whole new taste.

Chayote Buds Tempura is a twist to the traditional Japanese tempura by using chayote as stuffing instead of the original shrimps. The dish is placed in a batter and then deep fried in order to accentuate the flavor of the plant. It is priced at VND148,000 (US$7) and is a healthy, recommended choice no matter the season.

Su su bo lo is baked chayote with minced beef, seafood and cheese. It is served very hot with seafood such as shrimp and squid and mozzarella cheese as stuffing. To add a European flavor to the meal, Chef Hiep created a side dish of mashed potatoes, fried potatoes and salad. Su su bo lo costs VND168,000 (US$8).

For dessert, Chuoi cuon xoi nep nuong is recommended, banana rolled with sticky hill rice, coconut and cream. It is another local specialty for the season and costs only VND68,000.

While chayote may be a local ingredient and considered common in the area, Chef Hiep at Charm Palace and Bamboo Wings Restaurant transforms it to become a unique and extraordinary dish that both foreigners and even local residents will find interestingly delicious and worth coming back to. Moreover, Flamingo Dai Lai Resort aims at preserving its local food and making sure to serve it fresh everyday in a clean, eco-friendly environment.


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