French cuisine amidst palatial Indian surrounds
Let’s not pretend that Tajmasago Castle (6 Phan Van Chuong, D7) is the kind of place you’ll be visiting first and foremost for its cuisine. Of course I’m going to take you through the menu, and of course I’m going to tell you that the food on offer is good, because it is. The point is that the fine fare is all quite secondary to the venue itself—put simply, the reason why anyone would come here for dinner is not so much because it’s five star dining, but because this venue looks like nowhere else in Vietnam.
Visually, TajmaSago is a palace adjacent to the Cham Charm restaurant, and both are Khaisilk properties designed to bring the exotic architecture of the greatest structures of the Middle East—think the Taj Mahal and the Indian Maharajah palaces—to the shore of the crescent lake in Phu My Hung. The property is in fact a boutique resort, unique in Vietnam for offering guests a distinctly non-Western luxurious experience that does not draw explicitly from the Vietnamese culture itself. Its restaurants however (there are three distinct offerings) are predominantly Occidental affairs, with French (Trois Pommes), Italian and BBQ menus (BBQ Garden) to select from.
Our evening meal was French, taken outdoors by a decorative pool that resembles the cloisters of a grand mosque. Looking out over the balcony, it’s difficult not to catch a taste of a deliciously romanticized colonial conceit, a rarified glimpse into the way the imperialists saw themselves in a bygone age. To enjoy the moment is to be swept away in TajmaSago’s fantasy, which is perhaps the point of the entire structure.
Mille Feuilles of Goose Liver and Barberie Duck with 24Cr Gold Leaf
We were served a complimentary smoked salmon and caviar to set the mood, plated flawlessly on fine period crockery. This swiftly gave way to a Périgord truffles consomme with beef wagyu ravioli and goose liver, a curious dish that is prepared to resemble a Chinese wanton soup, with each dumpling filled with delicate French ingredients. The full, weighty beef broth is so rich in umami you’re tempted to chew it.
The first course was similarly intriguing, given on the menu as a “mille feuilles” (which usually refers to a French pastry that resembles a layer cake) of goose liver and barberie duck with 24cr gold leaf.
Stewed Lamb Shank With Tomatoes, Mushroom Sauce and Fresh Pasta
What we were presented with was an exquisite jellied meat served cold and capped by a quail egg with a flake of gold. Portions of the jelly melted like milk with the foie gras on the tongue to release their clusters of poultry. Our menu offered a selection out of two main courses, a roasted lobster with sauteed mushroom, champagne and Baeri caviar sauce; or a stewed lamb shank with tomatoes, mushroom sauce and fresh pasta. These were enormous creations and the best of their kind—the flesh of the lobster creamed in the shell, and that of the lamb served heavy on the bone as if for a medieval banquet. These were set to rest with a particularly flamboyant dessert that nicely matched the ornamentation of the restaurant environs: a crème brulée with pistachio & Baileys wine, and burned brown sugar with 24cr gold leaf. TajmaSago as a palatial edifice plays its part as the backdrop to a house cuisine that is presented with a certain poise. Come here to be caught up in the pageantry of it all.
Roasted Lobster With Sauted Mushroom, Champagne And Baeri Caviar Sauce
Images Provided by Ngoc Tran