Go Fish

Sea-to-table at Novotel Phu Quoc Resort’s Seafood Restaurant

One of the joys of island living is the availability of fresh seafood, and Novotel Phu Quoc Resort’s (www. novotelphuquoc.com) fine dining venue simply called “Seafood Restaurant” delivers in spades.

There’s something to be said for enjoying the bounty of the sea, just steps from the water, the ultimate in tracing your food right to its source.

Seafood Restaurant’s earthy-chic decor highlights its ties to Mother Nature through simple yet beautiful design features—gray slate floors, plushly cushioned wicker chairs and a jeweltone color palette of rich maroons and dark wood. Flickering candles and soft lighting cast a romantic glow on the twostory space, while simple centerpieces of freshly cut bird of paradise or just the prickly green tops of pineapples bring the outside in. Seafood Restaurant thoughtfully has a kids’ playroom stocked with toys and games to keep the youngest guests occupied while the adults dine.

Ambiance aside, diners come here to enjoy Phu Quoc’s freshest seafood which is delivered daily from the fishing village of Ham Ninh. Drive there yourself on the island’s east coast and see the floating farms stocked with everything from giant grouper to spiny lobster, or save yourself the trip and view the catch of the day in Seafood Restaurant’s impressive wall of tanks, waiting to be given the fine cuisine treatment.

The restaurant’s lunch and dinner menus are similar, with the dinner menu just a touch more extensive. Both showcase a plethora of seafood dishes cooked in a myriad of ways: grilled, prepared locally including steamed in beer or stir-fried with tamarind, in colorful salads or Japanese-style rolls, or paired with more traditionally Western flavors like pesto or fruit coulis.

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We start with a Blue Lagoon (VND250,000), one of the restaurant’s signature drinks. The electric blue cocktail reminds us of the ocean while citrus flavors from lemon and pineapple juices and Blue Curacao and triple sec refresh the palate for the seafood feast to follow.

Deep-fried squid with aioli and plum chilli sauce • Pan-fried scallops with mango coulis

We start with a plate of beautifully trimmed, deep-fried squid with aioli and a tangy salty plum chilli sauce (VND170,000) that manages to stay light, thanks to just a dusting of batter. This was followed by pan-fried scallops (VND310,000), their mild flavor a decadent vehicle for the sweet mango coulis, with red and green caviar providing bursts of briny saltiness. In addition to the fresh seafood, Seafood Restaurant excels in its sauces which ably complement the delicate seafood without overpowering it.

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Phu Quoc Signature Seafood Platter

For a main, we share a Phu Quoc Signature Seafood Platter (VND780,000 for 2), a culinary journey through some of the island’s best offerings, including prawn, crab, sea bass and calamari in addition to oysters smothered in melted cheese and scallops simply grilled with scallion oil and crispy bits of lard, all accompanied by a side of tossed greens. It truly is a feast for the senses as well as the palate, with each cooking method bringing out the naturally sweet flavors of Phu Quoc’s premium seafood. The signature sauces of red and green chili are thick and intense, made richer with an unexpected and barely noticeable touch of condensed milk.

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Passionfruit Cheesecake

We finish by sharing a wonderfully light passionfruit cheesecake (VND190,000) both sweet and tart, the impeccable presentation once again reminding us of our tropical environment—the strawberry coulis radiating out like rays of the sun while the robin’s egg blue dollops of meringue recall the sea.

Seafood Restaurant is also open for a la carte breakfast in the weekend for those who prefer a quieter, more refined alternative to the resort’s buffet breakfast with selections ranging from local vegetables in a curry sauce and Vietnamese pho to Turkish poached eggs and smashed avocado with goat cheese on toasted sourdough. If your room rate already includes buffet breakfast, pay a VND180,000 supplement to enjoy a full breakfast with freshly baked pastries, fresh fruit, freshly squeezed juice and two a la carte selections.

Images by Ngoc Tran

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