Though looks aren’t everything, it’s hard not to be dazzled by Ly Club’s plush aesthetic beauty — itself a homage to the creative prowess of the Ly Dynasty. Elegant yet casual, we sit in a softly lit and greenly shrouded front garden, surrounded by comfy French-style garden furniture atop a raised wooden deck area. A stunning infinity fountain, a vast French colonial villa and a sleek outdoor bar make for captivating eye candy. The cacophonous rush hour traffic is replaced by the swirl of Eurasian lounge music.

 

The menu is divided into two sections — east and west. However, such a simplistic notion is betrayed by the fact that the majority of dishes appear to incorporate elements of both Asian and western cuisine. The overriding influence, though, is French.

 

We order from both sections and start with the pan seared scallops and crunchy black sticky rice with saffron lime, green herb oil, lime leaf and fennel salad, as well as an order of deep fried seafood stuffed in eggshells. We’re taken aback by the exemplary presentation afforded to each dish.

 

Three large, pearly-white scallops sit on the darkened rice cakes — all tender and meaty. The white butter and herb oil add a zesty and fragrant creaminess that complements both the shellfish and the drier texture of the rice. Sublime.

 

The deep-fried seafood, which arrives in several egg-coated ringlets, catches us off guard. Perhaps naively on our part, we’re both shocked to find ourselves chewing, literally, on eggshells. It’s an acquired taste, and probably something I’d not order again, though the spices flavouring the assorted fish and sweetness of the accompanying plum sauce is delicious.

 

For mains, we order the grilled free-range chicken with tropical honey sauce and roasted lamb rack with vegetable ratatouille and potato puree. Simply put, both taste and look fantastic. The chicken and lamb have been grilled and roasted to perfection. The former is tender and moist, possessing a satisfyingly crispy exterior that works well with the honey glaze, while the interior of the latter is an exquisite pink.

 

Our only minor complaint is that the lamb is a little too fatty, though there’s still enough juicy meat to satiate our quibbles. The vegetable ratatouille possesses a rich, cheesy body while the potato puree is light and sweet, resulting in an interesting juxtaposition of textures and flavours.

 

We finish the evening decadently with the Ly Club strawberry cheesecake and warm moelleux au chocolat. The cheesecake arrives with half a dozen sliced strawberries coated in a coulee sauce and a small scoop of strawberry sorbet in a wafer basket. It’s the better of the two as we find the moelleux au chocolat a tad bitter, even with the addition of crème fraiche and orange slices. The cheesecake is dense and could be considered too sweet for some, but we find it utterly moreish.

 

Sure, it’s expensive, but the lack of pretension and the bang you get for your buck — especially in such eye-pleasing surrounds — means the near-VND2 million we spent on two three-course meals was well spent.

 

The Prices

Scallops VND235,000

Stuffed seafood eggshells VND160,000

Lamb rack VND525,000

Grilled chicken VND180,000

Ly Club cheesecake VND125,000

Moelleux au chocolat VND125,000

 

The Verdict

Food: 12.5

Service: 11.5

Interior: 13

 

Food, Interior and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15

13 – 15 extraordinary to perfection
10 – 12.5 very good to excellent
8 – 9.5 good to very good
5 – 7.5 fair to good
0 – 4.5 poor to fair

The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals

Mystery Diner

The Mystery Diner is a person hailing from a country that may or may not be Vietnam. S/he can be seen frequently in the restaurants and cafes of Hanoi and HCMC, searching for the most delicious meals each city has to offer. Look for the masked figure in a cape, lurking in the darkest corners of your neighbourhood com tam or pho joint.

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