Pampering and banqueting in Vietnam


Australia's favourite food blogger,
Not Quite Nigella, visits two cities in two nights, and two restaurants, in the culinary mecca that is Vietnam.

What are the rules of packing for a trip? Start packing a few days ahead and leave your suitcase open to fling in the otherwise forgotten items when you think of them or come across them in usage. It seems to have worked for me most times and I usually learn to pack pretty well (considering the amount of camera and computer equipment that I bring). But unfortunately three triangles of material did not make it into my suitcase for this trip to Vietnam. Yes, I forgot my bikini. But that doesn’t matter because I am at Fusion Maia resort and I have my own pool to myself.

Fusion Maia is Asia’s first all-inclusive spa resort where all guests can use the spa, facial and massage facilities for free as these are included in the room tariff (around $US330 per room).

...Apart from the 16 room spa there is also a spa library, yoga room, steam bath and sauna and swimming pool. Outside, facing the ocean there is also another swimming pool with deck chairs. At the spa there are 13 therapies available that cover the usual massages and foot reflexology and there are unusual body treatments like a yogurt splash where they cleanse and condition the skin using yogurt or an aroma flower bath. There are also facials, hair and manicure and pedicure services…

We are introduced to our therapists who lead us into the changing room where we undress and get changed into a pair of knickers, robe and slippers. We then make our way to the treatment room which is actually up a couple of flights of stairs (yes it’s big!) and I settle in for my 50 minute natural living signature massage and 50 minute aromatherapy facial for dry and sensitive skin…

We’re dining at a nearby restaurant called Blue Whale although I’m so zoned out it could have been two hours away and I probably wouldn’t have noticed…

Set along China Beach (the one that the television show was supposed to be set and also said to be the place where the Americans first landed) there are tanks for live seafood out the front. Inside it looks quite elegant and they ask if we’d like to sit outside. It’s a bit "fresh” with the breeze but the sounds of the waves crashing puts aside any dislike of lip gloss in hair moments.

da nang fusion maia resort vietnam


I adore banana flower salad and I always order it if I see it on the menu. Here the version is slightly different than the Thai version which we get in Sydney which is topped with coconut cream and poached chicken although the spicy chilli seasoning with the pungent kick of fish sauce and crunch of peanuts is similar. There is also a generous serve of prawns and pork in the dish and it is served with moreish sesame crackers.

The crispy calamari came out in a thick layer of batter, the calamari underneath tender but the ratio was mostly batter rather than calamari.

The prawns come grilled with bacon and whilst everyone finds them quite tasty I did find that the bacon really overpowered the prawns completely.

I can’t say that anyone was a big fan of this and it was discreetly sampled and after one mouthful it was pushed away. Not for the faint hearted.

The pork came out as slices of pork with a little thick flavoursome sauce that needed some of the boiled rice and eggplant below.

da nang fusion maia resort vietnam


I did find that the eggplant whilst it had a good texture needed more seasoning but this was where the full flavoured pork came in and mixing the two dishes resulted in a satisfying main.

Not really a brulee in the true definition, more a set bavarois with a toffeed top it was nevertheless quite good and worth finishing off every spoonful…

Our next morning is a busy one spent at Hoi An, a small city about 30 minute’s drive from Da Nang. There are 100,000 residents in Hoi An and it’s a busy shopping area for tourists and it is classed as a UNESCO heritage site for the buildings and streets. The inhabitants are also keen business people and this is where you go if you want to get clothes or shoes made up with same day service…

Everyone does a little shopping, we check out the temple and walk along the Hoi An River which is a brown shade. There are plenty of stores that can make all manner of clothing…

Once we’ve finished shopping we take a quick cruise along the river – cruises are usually for three hours but I think one hour is plenty quite honestly. There isn’t a lot to see during the cruise…

The restaurant there is situated in the heart of the action along the banks of the Thu Bon River and offers Vietnamese food with polish.

The spring roll is super fresh with the rice paper supple and delicious and filled with shrimp and crispy pork pieces. The coconut pumpkin soup comes as a thick layer of pumpkin soup puree and a topping of coconut cream. When stirred together it is thick, creamy and well seasoned. The mini herb salad with the passion fruit dipping sauce is the only thing that I don’t really go for although everyone else seems to like it (although I’m not one that really goes for fruit and protein or savouries unless it is pork or duck).

The sea bass is perfectly cooked and with a tasty shrimp sauce. It was supposed to be paired with stir fried noodles but they were boiled noodles with a garlic and turmeric.

To finish off our three courses, we have a lemongrass and ginger creme brulee. I really like the Asian flavours given to the brulees as it suits the climate and the preceding flavours.

After all of that, it’s off to bed to get ready for our last day in Vietnam. And it’s a goody! I break away from the group and do a bit of exploring of my own including visiting a local’s house for dinner and more! Stayed tuned my lovelies!

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I have been to Vietnam a number of times and find it fascinating (Pampering and banqueting in Vietnam, March 23). Hoi An is a great place and the old town in particular. Food and shopping is great as is the cooking classes. The capital Hanoi as against Ho Chi Min city is also a wonderful contrast, the staid capital against the bustling HCM. The place to go in 2012 for a great time for not too many dong!