The heat is on. And a cooling summer roll is the answer, served straight out of Chef Vu Dinh Hung’s crafted hands for you. There’s more in his repertoire, recipes et al

Vietnamese cuisine hits Indian shores at just the right time. Chef Hung demonstrated why you should warm up to it with a neat array of his country’s finest at the Vietnamese pop-up at Shiro, Worli. Albeit with his signature touch, not fusing, no, but combining traditional tastes with flavours from the Mediterranean to create an experience for the Indian palate to connect with and savour.

First up is the crunchy cold Summer Roll to suit the Indian weather, viz. hot just like in Vietnam, as the 47-year-old chef/kung-fu expert – with four restaurants in Vietnam and Istanbul, a cheery disposition, and youthfulness that deceives – informs us. Rice paper rolls are filled with glass noodles, herbs, vegetables and shrimp and earn honour as Chef’s favourite! In contrast – deep-fried, we infer – is the crispy Spring Roll, wrapped in lettuce, topped with mint and basil, with a chilli, garlic, lemon and Vietnamese fish sauce. It is not as oily as you would expect a spring roll to be, for Vietnamese cuisine is with less oil and moderate spice, too. Pho is next – the popular rice noodle soup, in beef/chicken broth with herbs and meat. An attractive eggplant, done BBQ style, topped with flavoured sauces, peanuts and chilli makes its way; served as a side dish at the Vietnamese table. But the aroma of the Chicken and Coconut Curry with Potato tells us something special has arrived, another of Chef’s favourites. Taking from the Indian influences, such as curry powder from India used in their cooking, the dish speaks of similarities in both cuisines, as Chef Hung elaborates.

“I believe there is so much that cultures have to offer,” shares the chef who has no formal training in cooking, just the inheritance from his mother and grandmother and the culture which breeds the passion and love for food. “Food in Vietnam is a shared gift, it creates an interaction among people of a community and good food brings people together!” Amen to that.

This feature was published in UpperCrust Magazine, Apr-Jun 2015; used here with permission from the publisher