Vegetarian buffets at Saigontourist-run hotels
The grand Buddhist celebration of Vu Lan is held annually on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. The main objective of this festival is for the people to express their gratefulness and appreciation to their parents. In accord with the celebration, the Van Canh Restaurant of the Que Huong Hotel introduced a vegetarian buffet. Many restaurants in HCM City have also started a vegetarian buffet program.
It was in 2000 that the Van Canh Restaurant and Que Huong Hotel chain started the vegetarian program for diners. "We were a little worried when the program got under way since most diners had not been familiar with this trend of food although we had made a careful survey about diners' demands," said Nguyen Thanh Tung, deputy director of the Que Huong Hotel chain. Tung was the promoter of this food program.
At the first vegetarian buffet, the Van Canh Restaurant had greater success than expected. In 2000, 2,835 diners came to enjoy the food. From that success, the Van Canh Restaurant has organized the vegetarian buffet program every year. In 2001, the program had 4,065 diners and 6,000 in 2002. In 2003 there were 8,000 diners at this special buffet.
"We expect that at this year's great Buddhist celebration there will be 9,999 diners," said Nguyen Kien Tri, marketing officer of the Que Huong Hotel chain.
The Van Canh Restaurant this year introduces the "Great dishes of Saigon" with the theme of "Gratefulness to Parents" on a menu of 63 new dishes. The program runs till September 14, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day. Tickets for children cost VND39,000, and adults pay VND72,000.
Besides good food, Van Canh Restaurant offers pleasant decorations, spacious surroundings and good service.
The "Buffet Ganh" or buffet displayed in bamboo baskets of Mangostine Restaurant at Bong Sen (Lotus) Hotel, is the longest-living program in HCM City. It has run since 1998. To make a change for the great Buddhist celebration this year, the restaurant for the first time introduces the vegetarian buffet named "Vegetarian food in the seventh month of the lunar calendar" comprising selected vegetarian dishes like non-meat shrimp-like pie, pickled bamboo shoot salad, fried Guangdong mushroom, non-meat sausage, well-steamed fresh Chinese mushroom, non-meat shrimp-like curry and Spanish vegetarian rice and more. Together with those family dishes is food for those who will take their parents out for the night. Those diners will have the chance to enjoy dishes cooked after Vietnamese, Chinese and Spanish styles. From fresh bamboo shoots, papaya, soy bean, mushroom and so on, experienced cooks of the Mangostine Restaurant will apply their skills to prepare the best dishes for diners. The program will last to September 13. The lunch buffet will go on from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. at VND53,000, and the dinner buffet from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at VND87,000 for an adult.
At the Rex Hotel, the Cung Dinh (royal palace), Hoa Mai (apricot) and Vuon Thuong Uyen (palace garden) restaurants also mark the week of great Buddhist celebrations from August 16 to 31 with a-la-carte dishes at VND100,000 per diner, with free fruit juices.
Joining in the move will be another big player in the catering field. Dong Khanh Restaurant of Dong Khanh Hotel in Cho Lon will introduce top Chinese dishes. Nguyen Quoc Anh, director of the hotel, said that the program was meant to enable the restaurant to offer its best wishes to customers.
This program is named "Loi Tri An," which is literally translated as "words of gratitude." It has a menu of 45 vegetarian dishes processed from tofu and vegetables like lobster-like curry, fruit soup with soy bean curd, non-meat spring rolls, Van Nam spring rolls, warm wet rice paper, Thai hot-pot, all-in-one hot-pot, noodle in crab soup and so on. These dishes are prepared by Chinese cooks. The program is also meant to welcome children to join in since it has such fun activities as clay shaping and coloring and painting young participants' faces. The program will start at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. from August 23 to 30, at VND65,000 for an adult and VND45,000 for a child with free artichoke tea, ice-cream and non-meat moon cake. Each 10 tickets attract one for free.
Van Canh Restaurant:
184 Calmette, Dist.1, HCM City, Tel: 829 4963
Mangostine Restaurant - Bong Sen Hotel:
117 Dong Khoi, Dist.1, HCM City, Tel: 829 1721
Royal Restaurant, Apricot Restaurant and Palace Garden-Rex Hotel:
141 Nguyen Hue, Dist.1, HCM City, Tel: 829 2185
Dong Khanh Restaurant:
2 Tran Hung Dao, District 5, HCM City, Tel: 835 2410