Monday, 28 April 2014

Royale Vietnam @ Starhill Gallery

Royale Vietnam @ Starhill Gallery brings you authentic Vietnamese cuisine 'royale' style.  If there's one thing that stands out in this restaurant is their food presentation as they pride themselves on fine carving and beautifully presented food.

Upon entering, you are greeted with beautiful lanterns hanging from the ceiling and plush sofas and chairs with comfortable cushions.  The timber walls with its decor of red coloured vases combined with red sofas, table cloth and cushions exude so much warmth to the place.

As I already had a heavy brunch earlier in the day, I was not too hungry at dinner time which was a 'blessing in disguise' since the prices here are pretty hefty...what do you expect, it's fine dining-wor (but luckily I had some vouchers from a group buying site to ease the 'pain').

We started with the Combination Appetiser Platter @ RM39.90 which is a platter made up of 5 (or maybe 4) popular Vietnamese starters (the last one I'm not so sure about) such as Fresh and Fried Spring Rolls, Net Spring Rolls, Sugarcane Prawn and Angry Baby Birds.

The Angry Baby Birds (which incidentally didn't look very angry to me) were made up of seafood paste wrapped around a quail egg and then coated and fried.  The Angry Baby Birds actually looked rather adorable with the end of a red chilli as its nose and black peppercorns as its eyes.  If you love quail eggs (like me), you'll find this a nice combo.  Another favourite Vietnamese snack is the Sugarcane Prawns.  This is minced prawn paste that has been wrapped around a sugarcane stick and fried.  The Fresh Spring Rolls, on the other hand, are made with cooked shrimps, fresh vegetables, including fresh (Vietnamese) mint, and cellophane noodles.  For those who like their food bland and subtle, they would enjoy this but not me as I prefer bigger, bold flavours + I hate mint!

This platter also included another well known Vietnamese snack, the Fried Spring Rolls. These are quite similar to our local popiah except it contains some ground meat (usually pork) but since this is a pork-free restaurant, minced shrimps and crab meat were used, with bean thread noodles, the usual vegetables, and then wrapped in spring roll wrappers and deep-fried.  The final snack is the Net Spring Rolls (which is also a form of fried spring rolls) except that net rice paper is used (which gives it a crispier texture) to wrap the ingredients (which include shrimps this time) before frying.  My favourites were the cute baby birds and fried spring rolls and you can eat all these with the 3 dipping sauces provided.

Next up was the Halong Bay BBQ Spicy Squid @ RM38.90 which was a whole squid marinated with their homemade spicy Vietnamese sauce and then grilled over a charcoal flame.  This was an ok dish, although rather spicy, you can definitely taste the barbequed flavour, but the portion was really small (just one squid) for the price.

We wrapped up our meal with an order of Fried Rice with Grilled Chicken Skewers @ RM26.90.  We ordered this for a change instead of the usual Pineapple Fried Rice with Seafood @ RM28.90 (very common) and Bamboo Fried Rice with Prawns also @ RM28.90 (tried this before).  This was just some plain fried rice with skewers of grilled chicken and capsicum (again, a meagre portion of just 2 skewers).  The chicken was tender with a lemongrass grilled flavour (lemongrass is a favourite and widely used herb in Vietnamese cooking).

As I mentioned before, Royale Vietnam prides itself on its food presentation...just look at this beautifully carved flower.  I guess they want us to feast with our eyes and not just with our stomachs!

In my previous outings to this restaurant, the food I had the privilege of sampling were:

1.  Seafood Mango Salad @ RM18.90 (top right) - a very refreshing salad with a 'twang' that just opens up your appetite.

2.  Crispy Golden Chicken (with salted egg yolk) served in Pumpkin @ RM32.90 (top left) - the deboned chicken pieces were mouth-wateringly fragrant.

3.  Flaming Coconut Seafood Curry @ RM38.90 (centre right) - delicious house famous dish served flaming.

4.  Pho Bo (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) @ RM28.90 - you can't come to a Vietnamese restaurant and not sample their iconic dish.....the broth was good, the beef was very tender.

5.  Vietnamese Style Wok Fried Beef Cube @ RM38.90 - another 'sure thing' at a Vietnamese restaurant is beef and their fried beef cubes were tender and flavourful.

Our drinks for the night:

Vietnamese Tea @ RM5.90
Orange Juice @ RM14.90
Fresh Coconut @ RM14.90 (the juice was really sweet)

My Personal Opinion

The Vietnamese cuisine served here is indeed authentic and the food is served fine dining style.  That's the reason for its higher than norm prices.....hey, someone's got to pay for the fine carving works of art, right?

The food is good enough to justify a return but the high prices mean it's not within the affordable range for many.  If the prices were 20% - 30% cheaper (or if they were to increase portion sizes), it would make this a very good Vietnamese place to dine.  So, do watch out for discount vouchers from group buying sites because it's definitely worth it.

Likes:  The ambience and décor, the food presentation....and the 5-in-1 appetiser combo!

Dislikes:  The portion sizes are a bit small for the (full) prices they charge.

Royale Vietnam
LG7 Feast Floor Starhill Gallery
No 181 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2143 9778

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