In the past, we’ve devoted a lot of pages to fine dining, street food shacks and the best savoury dishes Vietnam has to offer. But there’s always room for dessert.
To make room we dropped in on 10 of the best restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and asked them to bring us their best desserts. Here’s what they presented, and what the chefs had to say about them.
Dessert: Matcha Tiramisu
Where: Pots ‘n Pans
Chef: Ngo The Hoang
Says the Chef: This is our matcha tiramisu, served with matcha ice cream and four kinds of macaroon. Usually when you think of tiramisu, you’re thinking of coffee. But we have fused the traditional tiramisu with matcha, and used less strong liqueur flavours.
Of course it’s traditionally Italian, but our version is more Japanese. The macaroons are passionfruit and apple, matcha, violet syrup, and strawberry. We use these fruits and syrups to make more colour for our tiramisu.
This is one of our most special desserts, because you can trace a wider variety of flavours, and I feel it’s different to the tiramisu you can find in other restaurants.
Pots ‘n Pans is at 57 Bui Thi Xuan, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi
Dessert: Passionfruit Crème Brûlée
Where: Don’s — A Chef’s Bistro
Chef: Donald Berger
Says the Chef: This dessert is our passionfruit crème brûlée. This favourite is an inspired dessert on a number of levels and unique to Don's Bistro. Firstly, traditional crème brûlée is heavy, too sweet and a bit boring; especially for the Asian palette.
So we have lightened it up with passionfruit and fresh fruit, which makes it more flavourful, more healthy, more aromatic and we present it in its own shell, which makes this dessert beautiful as well as memorably yummy.
The ingredients are simply eggs, sugar and fresh fruit, and that's it.
Don’s is at 16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Dessert: Chocolate Croquette
Where: French Grill
Chef: Jean-Françoise Noulli
Says the Chef: This is the chocolate croquette with vanilla ice cream and orange. When you eat it, you take one piece of orange and a bit of ice cream; then you use your left hand to eat one ball alone, and finally add the other ingredients together.
The croquette is a recipe of Pierre Hermé, one of the best pastry chefs in the world. I got the recipe, and I wanted to showcase it for the Vietnamese.
It’s different from a chocolate fondant, which is not the same thing as liquid chocolate. But this is a simple recipe of chocolate, milk and cream; not very complicated, but takes a long time to do.
French Grill is at JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Do Duc Duc, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi
Where: Porte D’Annam
Chef: Didier Corlou
Says the Chef: This is a coconut blanc-manger, with almond and cinnamon cassia ice cream.
The coconut is used here because it’s soft, and its sweetness is not such a strong flavour. The almond adds something a bit crispy, while the cinnamon helps to round off the overall taste.
We think this is a really special dessert, because it’s an alliance between different flavours, fresh and with a light touch of spice from the cinnamon.
Porte D’Annam is at 22 Nha Tho, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Dessert: Coffee Delicacy
Where: La Badiane
Chef: Benjamin Rascalou
Says the Chef: These ingredients all have some rapport with coffee. For example, pistachio is nice if you combine it with coffee and ice-cream, and we add a glassage of coffee. Of course the tiramisu is made with coffee, and with the crème brûlée with Bailey’s, you can find some flavour of coffee there, too.
So we’re just keeping the idea around coffee, except the spring roll; the cinnamon and the almond brings some more originality, and adds more flavour around the coffee.
This dessert is nice for customers, because sometimes it’s too heavy to have a big thing or a big piece of cake; but with this, they can try different flavours. It’s special because we have different things without imposing with just one.
La Badiane is at 10 Nam Ngu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
#Ho Chi Minh City
Dessert: Creamy Mango Cheesecake
Where: Villa Royale Downtown Antiques & Tea Room
Chef: Tram Phuong
Says the Chef: This is a customer favourite. It’s inspired by the abundance of fresh, organic fruit growing on the mango tree at our District 2 tea room and has become synonymous with our name.
Lightly whipped and blended cream cheese sits atop a decadent buttery biscuit base. The pureed mango gives this delicate dessert a subtle, tropical fruit flavour. A gorgeous visual contrast exists as the bright orange of the mango blends seamlessly with the cream cheese filling.
Unlike its baked counterpart, this chilled cheesecake is neither too sweet nor too dense. Each flavour component provides balance — they complement each other perfectly. It’s served with an extra smear of mango coulis and a dollop of freshly whipped chantilly cream — perfect for any time of the day.
Villa Royale Downtown Antiques & Tea Room is located at Level 1, 25 Ho Tung Mau, Q1, HCMC
Dessert: Happiness in a Jar
Where: Pullman Saigon Centre
Chef: Pham Thi Sang
Says the Chef: Our piece of happiness comes in three different flavours: Humble Crumble, Lemonlicious, and Chocoholic and is served in beautiful glass jars instead of on typical ceramic plates.
Inside each jar are layers of goodness that combine to create perfect harmony for the taste buds. Each jar is created specifically with indulgence in mind but without the overwhelming sweetness of sugar.
Humble Crumble starts out with a layer of cinnamon cookie crumble, followed by cheese mousse and mango puree, topped off with fresh mango. The Lemonlicious brings out a different type of tropical flavour that includes coconut pieces, lemon curd, berry compote, fresh strawberries, and meringue to balance out the taste. While the Chocoholic will satisfy every chocolate lover with Oreo cookie crumbs, chocolate mousse, dark ganache, salted caramel sauce and fresh strawberry, finished off with a full Oreo cookie.
Pullman Saigon Centre is located at 148 Tran Hung Dao, Q1, HCMC
Dessert: Camilla’s Frozen Chocolate Mousse
Where: MAD House
Chef: Camilla Bailey
Says the Chef: It’s flavoured with Baileys Irish Cream and served with crumble and salted caramel ice-cream. This dessert is classic in flavours with the chocolate and the sweet and sour of the passionfruit sorbet that helps lighten the taste of the salted caramel ice-cream.
When the passionfruit is in season, we get them from one of our waitress’s grandmother’s house, which is a fun story behind the dessert that we like to share with our guests.
MAD House is located at 6/1/2 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, HCMC
Where: Le Corto
Chef: Sakal Phoeung
Says the Chef: The ingredients in this dessert are the perfect combination of flavours, but they also allow for great presentation. At first glance, it looks like a simple dessert and yet it’s surprisingly difficult to make.
The dough must be carefully rolled numerous times to create a pastry with multiple layers. The key is that when you cut or bite into the pastry, you hear a crunch and when you put it in your mouth, the vanilla hits you in both its taste and aroma. The addition of vanilla ice-cream creates a cool and pleasant sensation of summer.
Le Corto is located at 5D Nguyen Sieu, Q1, HCMC
Dessert: Yoghurt Panna Cotta & Grape Textures
Where: Stoker Woodfired Grill & Bar
Chef: Chris Donnellan
Says the Chef: This dessert is all about the yoghurt panna cotta and grape textures, and having some fun with creating a different feel in your mouth each time you take a bite, just to keep you guessing.
Combined with the yoghurt panna cotta is nitrogen yoghurt meringue, dehydrated poached and candied grapes with a shiraz grape syrup. This dessert is another way that we have some fun with wine, in particular Australian shiraz.
We don’t cut corners on quality ingredients and we source the best we can find for any purpose. It’s all made in-house with a focus on clean and uncomplicated food.
Stoker Woodfired Grill & Bar is at 44 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, HCMC