Making a fresh start in one of the best-known buildings on Hanoi’s skyline, Pacifica at Pan Pacific Hotel is making waves as the newest five-star hotel eatery in town.
The facelift has been exquisitely done, and is refreshing to behold. The new brand colours at Pan Pacific, bright shades of cyan against urban greys, make for a visual feast.
The dining area is bright and pleasant, and the buffet area doesn’t dominate or distract from the fact this is also an a la carte restaurant open to anyone, hotel guests or others.
The changes are not only cosmetic; there are new chefs and a number of new staff keeping things moving in front of house.
Even though I’m here to try the new a la carte menu, I can’t help but cast an eye over the buffet as I’m escorted to my table by a waitress resplendent in a crisp ao dai.
There’s a cooking station staffed by a couple of chefs busy preparing new dishes to add to the selection. Rows of hot food stand ready, alongside mountains of fresh bread, cheeses, seafood and salad. It looks good enough to deserve a return visit.
The drinks menu boasts a selection of Pacific-inspired cocktails which combine fresh local ingredients with up-to-date mixology techniques, so soft drinks will have to be side-lined for this evening’s meal.
These Colours Don’t Run
First up was the Pacific Colour (VND150,000), a long drink combining Havana rum, blue curacao, pineapple juice and coconut cream. Imagine a pina colada but coloured Avatar-blue and a bit zestier.
Starting off the food were the roast duck rolls (VND130,000). Pacifica claims to embrace recipes from around the Pacific Rim, and this signature starter dish went down a treat.
A little heavy with the herbs, the flavour of the duck still shone through. Combined with pickled onions and a thick, sweet and savoury dipping sauce, they were a superb start to the meal.
The second cocktail, the Tropical Island (VND210,000), was even more fluorescent than the first. Gin, Midori, peach schnapps, pineapple juice and cucumber creating a tropical paradise in my mouth.
The main course, grilled pork spare ribs (VND330,000), was more Vietnamese in its execution than I had expected; tougher than the meaty slow-cooked ribs favoured by most foreigners, and served with fried rice and seasonal vegetables.
Despite this, the dish featured a crispy well-done exterior, over pork marinated with pickled ginger and scallions, which more than made up for the less-than-exciting side dishes.
Apple pie (VND150,000) finished off the meal. Pacifica has solved the dilemma of ice cream or custard, by serving it with both. The pie is warm and generously filled with soft apple and raisins.
Overall an excellent meal punctuated by professional and friendly service, in a new and delightful setting.
Pacifica is on the first floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel, 1 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. Open daily from 9am to 11pm. Bookings available on (04) 3823 8888
Food, Decor 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