I have not been to Vietnam yet and thus the opportunity of getting introduced to a new country, through its cuisine and creativity, sounded delightful. Since both the genres, food and art, are my favorite and I often look for new experiences in my own city, the ongoing ‘Vietnamese food and art festival’ at Honk by Pullman, Aerocity, seemed worth my time and attention. The venue for the food and art festival was hotel’s signature Asian bistro, Honk.
HONK by Pullman
I attended the event on the very first day, when the festival was inaugurated by the officials and delegates of Vietnam embassy, New Delhi. The whole team had come and it was good to see the excitement on their faces, which showed that they were really looking forward to indulging in their local food. I was also keen to taste some fundamental and traditional Vietnamese food because I was told that two female chefs from Sofitel Saigon Plaza in Vietnam, had flown in especially for this festival and were joining the chefs team at Honk.
Someone has rightly said, “One of the best ways to discover a culture or develop interest in a new country, is to start with its cuisine. ”
Personally, I have a very basic idea about Vietnamese food. Hence this was a nice way to get introduced to one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. As per the chefs, Vietnamese food features a combination of five fundamental tastes and each Vietnamese dish has a distinctive flavor, which reflects one or more of these elements.
What I know is that Vietnamese are very fond of fresh herbs, fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce and they use it in just about every dish. I also knew about Pho (pronounced fuh, like “fun” without the “n”). A friend from there, had told me once that it is a soup, which is a blend of Vietnamese rice noodles and meat broths. He had laughingly added that it is so important to their culture that a mother judges her son’s wife, based on her broth-making skills. This definitely means that Vietnamese take their broth, very-very seriously. Each family has its own way of seasoning, putting ingredients to create their signature. There may be hundreds of versions of one single soup or any other dish.
The country was also colonized by France for quite a long time, and thus there is a French influence on the food too. And don’t worry, its not that vegetarians have no choice. The use of vegetables is also dominant in most regions of Vietnam. Yes, you may have to remind them that you need the noodles or the soup without any kind of meat or fish sauce.
The concept of HONK
This was my first visit to HONK and the ambiance looked warm and inviting. I had heard that the restaurant was quite a melting pot of flavors with an indoor and alfresco seating. The Asian inspired street food cuisine has been the forte of this place.
Chef Neeraj Tyagi, Director of Culinary, and the two chefs from Vietnam had worked out a menu, well suited for our tastes.
The tables were set. A set menu was waiting for me and it lay rolled up on my table. The appetizers and the idea of fresh salads, soup made me hungry for sure. The dishes on the menu looked locally focused and globally credible. When I had them, I could make out that were not just cooked to fill your appetite, but were prepared to appeal to the senses too. Every ingredient spoke for itself.
I sat down to eat only when I had seen all the paintings. I walked along the whole premises to appreciate the creative works by the Vietnamese artists. Trust me, art is a great way to peep into an unknown world and creative mind. Some of the paintings were not just extraordinary but extremely impressive. And I did not miss to spot nón lá (leaf hat). Vietnamese people love to wear that perfect conical hat. Any figure wearing Non La is a beautiful symbol of Vietnam and the paintings spoke of it. They were all contemporary paintings, picked from the Asian Art House. You may go an explore them anytime.
I loved the noodle soup where the use of cinnamon really stood out for me. The vegetable fresh spring roll with the peanut was fresh and very interesting. It looked like a cousin of sushi, minus the rice. In no time, I gobbled it all. The deep fried sea-bass with lemongrass and chilli was cooked perfectly to my taste. My favorite from the list was slow cooked chicken with ginger and the Vietnamese stir fried noodles with vegetables.
I am sure there was a little bit of adaption for the Indian taste buds and I am glad there was. Personally, I really liked the stuff where there was less use of fish sauce. Overall, I am glad that I came back more acceptable towards yet another cuisine. Now, I can always suggest Honk by Pullman, if you are looking for food around the airport.
Pullman New Delhi Aerocity
While I ate, I also had a chance to interact with the marketing team and learned that Pullman had been doing some amazing activities and festivals in the last few months. I had not been in the capital due to my trips and hence missed on checking them. Accor Hotels brand is definitely one of my favorites world over. Pullman and Novotel, both near the Airport are not just convenient for the business travelers but also offer a creative platform to their guests, through versatile elements like Art, Music and Gastronomy.
Turkish Food Festival (23rd August to 1st September 2019)
Pullman had hosted a delectable Turkish food Festival in association with Swissotel The Bosphorus, Istanbul and Turkish Airlines in August. The culinary affair was scheduled at Pluck. A signature restaurant of Pullman, Pluck is a modern-day eatery on the lobby level, serving modern European & contemporary Indian cuisine with freshly picked ingredients from the in-house farm.
‘Farm to Fork’
We all know the concept of new-age farming. Pluck has an in-house farm of 5000 sq.ft. and the restaurant has been offering the freshest and safest ingredients in a seasonal menu. Fresh food is plucked from the farm and served to your table, customized as per your wish. I am definitely going for it soon.
Pullman has come up with this interesting stay-cation. The highlights of it are that one can choose and dine at either of the signature restaurants, Pluck or Honk for a 7-course meal.
From the time a guest enters the property, they are totally involved in their own food. They are made aware of what they are eating and drinking. They are greeted by the Chef at the lobby with an innovative welcome drink based on local ingredients. Guests interact and spend time with the culinary team. They pluck and pick vegetables from the in-house farm. They also have the opportunity to go with the Chef to the local market to get ingredients to prepare the food.
For lunch, an experience of a sumptuous dim sum lunch with over 2 dozen variety of dim sums is given and various other Cantonese and Sichuan dishes at Honk. Later, the guests can ‘Meet the Masters’ of the culinary team through any of the sessions on either one of the following -Art of Baking, Cake Decoration, Blind Tea Tasting, Art of Dim Sum, Making and preparing Hand Pulled noodles.
Sri Lankan Food Festival (8th-16th November 2019)
Pullman also hosted the Sri Lankan food festival ‘A Gastronomical Journey through Sri Lanka’ in association with Mӧvenpick Hotel Colombo. It was a 9 day festival and was inaugurated in the presence of Austin Fernando, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India and Mr. Biswajit Chakraborty, General Manager Delegate, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity.
The guests had an opportunity to relish mouthwatering Sri Lankan dishes at Pluck. I would have loved it for sure. Egg hoppers, Kottu and Srilankan curries are my favorite, from Sri Lanka.
Artist Playground, happened in the month of September. The talent of as many as 25 artists, through the popular art event was hosted by the hotel. Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Seema Kohli & many more renowned artists had presented their illustrations. Art connoisseurs in the capital had a great time, here.
Are you headed to the Airport?
Next time, when you are headed to the International Delhi Airport or are passing by from there, you can always drop off and and check out the activities taking place at Pullman and Novotel.