La Maison 1888 is the fine dining French restaurant at the amazing (and multi award winning) InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. The restaurant (and the whole resort) is designed by famous architect Bill Bensley and nestles on the hill side over looking the sea; it’s a stunning location for a remarkable restaurant.
After 3 successful years working with the legendary Michel Roux, La Maison 1888 is now home to world renowned French chef Pierre Gagnaire who is continuing the gastronomic journey by offering classic French cuisine in a simply sublime setting.
La Maison 1888 is elegant, with crisp white table cloths draped down to the floor, a bold black and white colour scheme with opulent chandeliers suspended from the ceiling and plush fabrics covering seats and cushions; candles, fine tableware and bouquets of velvety red roses on each table complete the setting of an ‘antique French mansion which was once home to a colonial French / Eurasian family’.
We all know that French chefs and French cuisine are often not a natural pairing with those who wish to eat a vegan diet, so we were intrigued to see what our experience would be like. We wanted it to be as fabulous as the resort where it is located; we wanted to feel the magic that is in every nook and cranny at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula, we wanted to be ‘wowed’ by every mouthful of food we savoured. So with high hopes, but perhaps just a little reservation too, we sat down for a vegan fine dining experience at La Maison 1888.
The Vegan Food:
The menu at La Maison 1888 is understated with dishes being simply named; “Pineapple with Mushroom”, “Parsnip with Truffle”, “Avocado and Eggplant”. It had the effect of keeping us guessing as to what the dish might look like, keeping a little mystery to our dining, with the secrets of each dish to be revealed only when it was placed in front of us and finally tasted.
Shortly after being seated, we are served dainty amuse bouche; sesame candied tomatoes that have a crunchy sugary outside and a sweet juicy middle, a miniature soup made from mushroom, herbs and vinegar which goes quickly in a shot of pure deliciousness and tiny martini lime jellies which are boozy and full of citrus.
We begin to receive the dishes on the menu, starting with a course named ‘Gordes’ which consists of a collection of vegetables which have been sealed with a fine sheet of translucent, pepper red gel. It’s a visually stunning dish, full of light vegetables and an intense capsicum cream.
‘Two Sorbets’ arrives next, which turns out to be an intriguing palate cleanser of carrot and guava sorbets sat in a pool of strawberry juice seasoned with vinegar. The carrot is creamy and earthy, the guava is laced with lemon and the strawberry juice is pleasingly salty, sweet and full of strawberry flavour.
At this stage we’re already in love with all the flavours and we realise that our meal has only just begun with a further 10 courses to go. There is a creamy lentil hummus that’s almost mousse like and is filled with fresh coriander flavours, served with a spongy thick chickpea pancake sat atop and accompanied by a zingy broth poured over tiny curls of courgette and sour juicy pomegranate seeds.
Next up is a mushroom and pineapple dish made from small cubes of meaty tasting crispy mushrooms sandwiched in between thin slices of sweet roasted pineapple and served with a single spicy garlic chive and fat juicy mushroom on the side. Tiny peaks of grassy fresh parsley puree and spicy chilli puree form a pretty circle and add the final piece of the jigsaw to the dish.
Leaves, roots, bulbs, seeds, nuts and fruit are crafted into dish after dish of delectable food, presented with thought, but leaving the taste as the star of the show as we believe it should be. Aubergines are whipped up into a smooth light cream which is filled with a well of sour, zingy apple gel and topped with slivers of toasted hazelnut and miniature leaves of mint.
Simple vegetables are baked in a dough sealed casserole dish to seal in the flavours and create a burst of herb heavy steam as the pot is cracked open at our table before being whisked away to be plated in the kitchen. When it returns, the full beauty of the ingredients are revealed as we eat the tender soft vegetables, laced with truffle and herbs; it’s a soothing, warm dish that is comforting to eat.
After a final savoury course (made from fennel, tomato, carrot and lettuce with a creamy oil rich agar set mayo) we reflect on the lightness of the meal; rich and full of flavour but not heavy at all, considering we have been eating for over 2 hours and have polished off 8 courses, we are not overly full.
And then dessert arrives and we have to take back everything we have said and replace it with thanks that we had space for such a momentous end to this wonderful vegan food adventure.
‘The Pierre Gagnaire Grand Dessert’ actually consists of four desserts and because they are all delicious and we can’t resist them, we attempt to eat every mouthful of every dish; something we now know is nearly impossible.
Local flavours and ingredients are fused into a mixed fruit cup covered in dragon fruit syrup. A moist slab of vegan chocolate cake with rich ganache, toasted coconut, perfumed candied fruit and coconut cream is heavenly. The ‘Blackcurrant Declination’ includes a sweet berry foam and crunchy blackcurrant rich spun sugar strands that are as delicate as lace.
But our favourite is the ‘Apple candied with tandoori, vegan vanilla ice cream and apple tuille’ not only because the sweet and spicy candied apple mix goes perfectly with the creamy vanilla ice cream, but because this is a bold, slightly crazy dish that we could never have imagined in our wildest dreams. It’s a dessert that encompasses the spirit of the entire resort in every blissful mouthful.
At this stage it’s fair to say that we are blown away and almost in a sweet vegan dessert coma of pleasure, but we find room to eat the tiny petit fours because they are beautiful (and a chance to eat beautiful food should never be ignored).
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Whether you are guests at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, or visiting nearby Danang and Hoi An, make a reservation at La Maison 1888 for a vegan fine dining extravaganza.
Enjoy eating a specially created vegan menu, sitting back to see what the chef has created and how plant-based ingredients are turned into magical plates of food.
We were guests of La Maison 1888 but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
La Maison 1888
InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
Bai Bac, Son Tra Peninsula, Danang, Vietnam
Telephone: +84 511 393 8888
Opening Hours: Dinner 1830-2300 (closed Wednesday)