It was a difficult decision to be in Hue for New Years the city was much bigger than we had originally thought but still there weren’t any fireworks or bands playing in an outside venue. The local Vietnamese all gather with their family and friends in a park fenced off on a lawned area along the Perfume River however not knowing any locals we decided to do something a little touristy but we are so glad we did as we decided to have a feast for a king.
Hue is famous for its royal cuisine when the capital of Vietnam moved to the city of Hue and the royal family lived in the Purple city in the grounds of the citadel from the 19th century under the reign of the Nguyen family they brought the best chefs from around Vietnam to Hue.
Originally Hue was known for its seasonings and flavours but not for its aesthetic appeal to the food the chefs that were brought to Hue transformed the looks of the food taking the local flavours but served with a more appeasing feel for the food as the food came presented in the form of carved dragons and pheasants.
Fifty courses for every meal came prepared for the king but usually he wouldn’t eat that much as he left most of the food for his Mandarins to devour. The fussiest king was said to be King Dong Khanh and the King who liked the simplest of food was King Gia Long.
Ancient Hue is where we ate our meal fit for royalty being New Years we wanted to have a meal that we would remember and this restaurant never failed us. Situated outside of the city, only a taxi would be able to find this place as the road is only a dirt track.
The grounds lit up under the lanterns as you walk through the gardens over the bridge across ponds filled with brightly orange-colored koi, even before entering the landscaped grounds and the wooden buildings built in the 19th century you are transported back to Hue when emperors were the people who controlled not only Hue but the country of Vietnam.
Earlier I said that it was touristy and it definitely is there weren’t any Vietnamese in the restaurant and the prices may be cheap by western standards but compared to other meals in the country it was extremely expensive. However I felt the quality of the food and the ambience of the restaurant outweighs who the customers are and how much we pay to eat here.
There are two options to choose from at Ancient Hue either Ala Carte from the menu or a set course from the Royal menu. Being New Years we decided to make the most of it and have the Royal Menu course. Each dish came out intricately carved the starter being a pheasant with eggs wrapped around meat like pate making up its plume of feathers. The food then kept coming spring rolls crunchier but different to the ones you get at home, salad, satay, omelets, soup and shrimp dishes followed but this was only the first half. The mains followed with chicken, meatballs, sautéed vegetables, fried rice and fish.
With all that food we never made midnight.
At the end of our meal one of the friendly staff who carves the animals or flowers for the restaurant came to the table and had a conversation with us while showing us how to carve animals from the vegetables. It was a fitting way to finish the meal as when each dish was served the first comments were always about the carved vegetables.
What we didn’t like
Not everything can be perfect and Ancient Hue also had a slight hitch upon entering the restaurant they were unable to find our reservation. Being a quiet night it wasn’t a concern however if the restaurant had been busy I don’t know how it would have affected the night.
Ancient Hue Details
104/47 Kim Long street Hue
84 54 3590 357