Nha Trang has no shortage of up-market options when it comes to accommodation and dining, whether in the city itself or in out-of-the-way places to the north and south. Such places are fine if you want to focus 100% on your partner or you can’t put down your latest favourite novel, but Nha Trang itself is a fascinating city with lots to see and do and a vibrant nightlife.
If you want to be part of that but still want privacy in luxurious surroundings and can afford to pay for it, you can’t go past the Evason Ana Mandara & Six Senses Spa Resort. Established by one of the first international hotel groups in Vietnam, Ana Mandara is the only resort in town that’s on the beach side of the esplanade – the others are on the other side of the road or even further back, usually in the form of apartment-block hotels.
Ana Mandara’s setup provides a unique location for its 74 garden villas along lovely meandering garden paths, from where you can stroll right onto the beach. And that is where you’ll find the redesigned beachfront lounge, the Ana Beach House, which opened to the general public in early December after a ‘soft opening’ exclusively for resort guests in mid-November.
The new Beach House consists of five dining and entertainment areas – an indoor area surrounded by a glass-roofed lounge with private dining room and walk-in wine cellar; an entrance lounge area; a bar with cocktail/coffee tables; an open sandy beach area with lounge beds in front of the restaurant; and tables around the infinity pool that offer another place to dine. The indoor space has a central area for DJ or live music entertainment.
The overall ambience is subtly stylish, with a very pleasant, open-air design that makes the most of the sea breezes.
When we dined here in late November during the ‘soft opening’ period, the food and beverage manager, Mr Anton-Georg Maier, explained that they were still fine-tuning the menu and wine list. Ana Mandara wanted to ensure that the quality and overall dining experience lived up to the very high standards of the resort before the ‘proper’ launch to the general public. He need not have worried (see below).
Mr Maier joined Evason Ana Mandara in July 2014 with an extensive background in hotel food and beverage management that has taken him to the USA, the UK, Bhutan and his home country of Austria. He oversaw the opening of the Beach House and continues to work on the resort’s ever-growing selection of excellent wines and creative cocktails.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet the executive sous-chef, Le Thi Minh Thuy, who has worked at Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang for the past 18 years. Ms Thuy began her career here as kitchen staff and rose through the ranks to become executive sous-chef in 2011. She has an impressive string of chef’s qualifications and has worked with chefs from Italy, France, Holland and India. She combines this experience with her understanding of many Asian cuisines to create imaginative fusion dishes.
Even though Mr Maier said he was still perfecting the menu and wine list, we couldn’t tell what needed to be perfected after we settled into our pleasant corner table on the beachfront veranda. The menu was well thought out, with a focus on Vietnamese cuisine and fresh local seafood, along with some creative Western dishes, attractive vegetarian options, and an extensive children’s menu in the form of a fun wooden plank with removable blocks.
Our group comprised four adults and a child, and we all chose something different to share and compare.
The stand-outs among the starters were the spicy squid, the home-made sausages with creamy ginger Chinese cabbage, and the vegetable brochette, while the hand-rolled prawn rolls were among the best we’ve had in Vietnam. So far, so delicious.
The mains didn’t disappoint either. The cobia sea bass leather jacket elicited a broad smile from our hard-to-please seafood connoisseur – “Very fresh and well-cooked, wonderful!” The tasty, 24hr marinated pork belly with traditional Vietnamese spices displayed Ms Thuy’s fusion skills to the full. And everyone agreed that the grass-fed Australian rib-eye with Asian herb and ginger salad was cooked medium-rare to perfection – seared on the outside and juicy on the inside – although our Aussie table-mate couldn’t resist commenting that “steaks in Austraya are thicker”.
Our daughter wolfed down the spaghetti bolognese and she’s normally a very fussy eater.
On to the desserts: sweet potato fritters with coconut pandanus ice cream – yummy! The passion fruit parfait and preserved coconut lime sorbet – more, please! The home-made vanilla ice cream for our daughter – “Pappa, can I have another one?”
I must admit I didn’t write down the white and red wines we ordered, except that they were towards the cheaper end of the price lists yet both were excellent. Mr Maier obviously knows how to match his wines to the menu.
In summary, Ana Mandara has succeeded in creating a new chic rendezvous in Nha Trang with its redesigned Ana Beach House. Yes, dining here will cost a bit but the beachfront venue is perfect and the quality is top notch. I can recommend it wholeheartedly for a special night out.
It’s open from 10am to 11pm Monday through Thursday, and 10am to 1am Friday through Sunday. For more information, visit the web page, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +84 258 352 4705.