As a southeastern Australian state with favorable natural conditions, Victoria boasts a range of premium, world-renowned culinary products. In a vibrant and bustling backdrop of international trade activities, Vietnam is one of Victoria’s most significant bilateral trade markets in the fields of F&B, education, and manufacturing.
To further promote and support the relationship, the Victorian Government Trade and Investment Office in Vietnam, in collaboration with Vietcetera, organized the Taste of Victoria showcase in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to showcase Premium Victorian food and beverages.
Victorian “hero products” at the events included grass-fed beef, lamb, seafood, high-value dairy products, and wine. Along with Blackmore’s Wagyu 9+ and Mulwarra lamb, other premium ingredients like Josdale Black Angus beef, Woodward lamb, Yumbah greenlip abalone, and Meredith Valley goat cheese were also on display at the showing.
To celebrate the excellent quality and flavors of the products, three high-profile chefs in each city were invited to perform in-house, using Victorian ingredients to create unique and captivating dishes. Guests included food influencers, chefs, journalists, and other culinary professionals.
“Through the Taste of Victoria events, Vietnam’s chefs and food industry experts will have the chance to sample Victoria’s best ingredients prepared by Vietnam’s best chefs. The showcase will highlight the exceptional quality and taste of Victorian food and beverage,” said Ms. Rebecca Hall, Commissioner for Victoria to Southeast Asia at the event.
“The Victorian Government Trade and Investment Office here in Vietnam is always looking at ways to connect Victorian exporters’ and support their distributors in Vietnam, we thank the distributors who have been part of this promotion,” Ms. Hall emphasized.
In Hanoi, the Taste of Victoria showcase took place on March 10 at the Novotel Hanoi Thai Ha hotel in the presence of highly-acclaimed chefs such as Hungazit, chef at JW Marriott, and culinary researcher and writer; Sam Tran, chef & owner at Gia Restaurant; and LV.Lam, food blogger and founder at Nhã Culinary.
Station 1: Premium Red Meat by Hungazit showcased lamb tenderloin with crispy crumbled falafel and tzatziki, and Blackmores Wagyu Striploin steak with green pepper sauce. The sophisticated dishes were paired with De Bortoli’s Riorret Lusatia Park Pinot Noir 2019 from Yarra Valley.
Station 2: Vietnamese Fusion by Sam Tran featured Wagyu 9+ tartare, lamb spring rolls, and cheese tart with goat cheese espuma and grapes, paired with De Bortoli’s Woodfired Heathcote Shiraz 2019.
Station 3: Seafood by LV.Lam demonstrated dishes made with Victorian greenlip abalone, from sous-vide abalone carpaccio to butter-poached abalone with kumquat & coriander dressing, paired with De Bortoli’s Riorret Lusatia Park Chardonnay 2017 from Yarra Valley.
A week after the successful Hanoi exhibit, on March 17, the Taste of Victoria HCMC food showcase at the Hotel des Arts Saigon was joined by guests in the F&B industry and guest chefs who managed three stations:
Station 1: Premium red meat featured Masterchef Vietnam 2013 winner Ngo Thanh Hoa, who’s also the founder and head chef at The Ox Not Only Ox Restaurant.
With Black Angus striploin, chef Hoa came up with his Vietnamese striploin slippers topped with “pho” sauce and beetroot salad. Meanwhile, the Victorian lamb racks were marinated and served with a special mixed sauce of spearmint, ginger, and fermented beancurd (Vietnamese chao), along with cucumber dill salad on the side. The tasting dishes are served with Angus The Bull Cabernet to complement the palate.
Having in hand special hero ingredients in terms of quality and flavor, chef Hoa picked out local Vietnamese herbs and spices as supporting ingredients.
While the striploin was fairly easy to work with, the strong taste of lamb demanded a more skillful and intricate pairing option from Hoa. He leveraged the special Vietnamese spearmint, beancurd, fish sauce, and various other ingredients to create an overnight marinating sauce for the lamb racks. For a nice, balanced finish, the chef contrasted the spicy and tangy flavors of the sauce with a creamy cucumber dill salad.
“The important thing is that I’m using most local Vietnamese ingredients that are often present in the kitchen, highly accessible to get, and easy to use, in order to create a flavor that is familiar with the Vietnamese taste,” Hoa shared.
“As for our Victorian products, as a chef working in Vietnam, I feel so lucky that there will be such high-quality ingredients that we can get in Vietnam these days, especially when it wasn’t at all convenient and accessible like this in the past.”
To elevate and draw attention to the often-ignored meat parts, in Station 2: Vietnamese fusion, Bao La, chief chef at Que by Kareem and Madam Kew, prepared Vietnamese-inspired Wagyu steak tartare using the beef neck, egg yolk, mixed Vietnamese herbs, and Vietnamese prawn chips. The dish was paired with Little Yering Shiraz.
Inspired by the earthy local flavors of Vietnamese bò tái chanh and bò lá lốt dishes, Bao put extra effort into processing his hero ingredient and choosing the suitable Vietnamese herbs and spices. The result is a creative and harmonious marriage of two seemingly contrasting cuisines of Vietnam and Australia, which successfully conveys his love for both. “Because I’m Australian, working with Australian ingredients makes me miss home,” Bao confessed.
“I’m very proud to be Australian and I think Australia is a beautiful country with amazing products and farmers who are really passionate about what they do. And to be able to really showcase that to a country that I’ve really fallen in love with, I’m very humbled and honored.”
In station 3: Seafood, chef Le Quoc Vinh, managing director, and head chef at Ngoc Suong Seafood & Bar presented his Abalone Trio, a greenlip abalone dish with three different preparation methods: slow-cooked abalone, abalone jelly, and abalone sashimi, accompanied by Little Yering Chardonnay.
As someone who’s passionate about Vietnamese cuisine, Vinh pursues a creative cooking style that he named “small bite, big flavor.” For his Abalone Trio, the chef first slow-cooked abalone in a special sauce he made over very low heat for 24 hours. The sauce is then adapted to the abalone jelly and risotto, which was seasoned with mắc khén, or Indian prickly ash, a special spice native to the northwestern region of Vietnam to add a touch of Vietnamese cuisine to the course.
The events successfully put Global Victoria’s vision into an outstanding showcase of culinary flair by a new generation of Vietnamese Australian chefs, an undeniably mouthwatering exhibit of the best ingredients that make Victorian and Vietnamese cuisines unique, and an incomparable display of culinary passion.
As Victoria and Vietnam’s collaborative efforts and bilateral relations bloom further — thanks to events like the Taste of Victoria — the two countries are expected to continue to reach greater heights in terms of trade, friendship, and strategic partnerships in the coming years.