The latest addition to the Six Senses portfolio, Six Senses Con Dao, located on an idyllic archipelago off Vietnam’s southeast coast, is offering visitors the opportunity to get first-hand lessons in the delights of Vietnamese cuisine.
Overseen by the resort’s head Vietnamese chef, guests learn to cook traditional dishes and family recipes as old as the restaurant’s wall – which are constructed from reclaimed wood from centuries-old Vietnamese buildings.
Colonial occupations by China and France have had their influence, but Vietnamese food has a distinct identity of its own, championing simple, fresh flavours placed together in the right quantities. Basil, chilli, coriander, fish oil, lemongrass, morning glory and tamarind are the prevalent flavours, and vegetables often arrive on the plate al dente. Guests learn that the iconic clay pot is intrinsic to the country’s heathy, mouthwatering stews as the pot (dipped in water before cooking) steams the food without dissipating the flavours.
After completing dishes such as Vietnamese spring rolls with prawns (goi cuon), beef in betal leaf (thit eo nuong la lot), and hot and sour fish soup (canh chua ca), guests sit down to enjoy the meal with a glass of wine. The chef, who conducts the class with the help of an English translator, will suggest certain dishes to cook, including her own family recipes, but guest requests are also welcome.
The culinary adventure continues for guests at the resort’s beach restaurant, where British chef Richard Lee works closely with the Vietnamese kitchen team to create a further array of local dishes along with imaginative world cuisine, from comfort food to fine dining.
At Six Senses Con Dao many guests find it hard to drag themselves away from their beautifully designed, wood-panelled private villas or the mile-long beach, but enticements include nature tours (highlights being turtle spotting and a monkey trail) snorkelling, scuba diving and a tour of the Con Dao prisons, built by the French and later used by the Americans in what the Vietnamese refer to as The American War.