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The second prize in the Southern Region semi-final- Kim Do Hotel – HCM City

Monday, 11/16/2015 09:58
This had the theme of using one key ingredient for all the dishes on a single menu. Chef Nhu Cuong and his team won a “double” prize by using Trái bình bát (custard apples) for his menu in the semi-final.

In this round, Kim Do hotel, team number 29, from HCM City impressed everyone not only using one spice which resembles young cucumber, but also by utilizing all its parts including the leaves, trunk and fruit. It was displayed from the cooking area to the luxury party table. The team also won over the crowd with their friendly smiles and enthusiastic attitudes as young chefs.

Not using flowers to decorate but using the trunk of a custard apple plant to decorate the party

Chef Nhu Cuong was interested in an industry of a more technical subject but then became a chef by accident; it must have been his destiny. At the time most of his friends and relatives didn’t support his dream, but this young chef, from Binh Dinh Province, is still determined to follow his new career. Representing the younger generation from the Central Region, it took great bravery to follow this path at that time. Chef Cuong has quietly proved his choice to be the correct one. He has been working as a chef for 7 years now. His competency and passion for cooking has seen this young man, born in 1988, win numerous awards in his career. He has gained encouragement from this, especially winning the bronze medal in the Vietnam talented chef contest.

 Returning for his second appearance in the Golden Spoon Contest, he shows great willingness to learn and develop his talent. Cuong Nhu Nguyen chef and his two team members Dao Minh Nguyen and Cuong Minh Nguyen have a positive response from numerous food experts. They salute his brave attempts at creating dishes, using local spices whilst maintaining the standards of delicious and nutritious cuisine.

Chef Nhu Cuong from Kim Do Hotel sets up the menu with the main ingredient of custard apple.

He was very successful when actively exploring and researching Vietnamese dishes, especially those using strange spices for promoting an area or attending competitions. In the preliminary rounds of the competition, wild grapes were used as the main ingredient for all dishes. In the semi-finals of the South region, 93 talented chefs from 31 outlets took part. These young artist chefs once again received great applause after using custard apple as a main ingredient for their luxury dishes.

Instead of using flowers to decorate the table as the other team did, Captain Nhu Cuong and his team used the stems of custard apples. This immediately made the judge curious. Upon enquiring, they were surprised that the team had taken this approach.

Dishes to be displayed in the contest:

salad made of custard apples, pork and shrimp; rolling fresh rice paper with custard apples and sour Ba Be baby shrimp; Fresh water crab stir-fried with custard apples served on grilled rice paper; “canh siêm” soup with custard apples; grilled beef with “Mắc mật” seeds (a local spice from Northwest region); cocktail with custard apples and “Mắc mật” seeds; cake made of custard apples and custard apple tea.

Party table of Chef Nhu Cuong and his team

Normally people living in the countryside use custard apples to make soup; not many people use them for other dishes. But for Chef Nhu Cuong, custard apples have become a special spice enabling him to gain entry into the final round. To prepare this menu, Chef Nhu Cuong went to An Giang to look for custard apple leaves. However, as it was not in season, there weren’t enough. He therefore had to go to the countryside in District 9 and Thu Duc in search of more. Chef Nhu Cuong told us that on a scale of 1 to 10 then searching for ingredients would score a 1, but studying to be a chef would be a 10. To be able to do that the chef need to be well prepared and learn from his mistakes. He thought it had failed from the beginning but at no time would he have given up. Chefs need to have great passion and be willing to do a lot of research. You have to cook until your taste tells you it is ready to serve to diners. This of course applies not only in competition but also for your daily work. Thanks to all his efforts each of the dishes from appetizers to main courses and dessert, received very high compliments from judges.

A meat dish was presented on a colorful plate
“Canh siêm” soup with custard apples tastes fresh and cool

Chef Nhu Cuong used all parts of the custard apples to cook different dishes custard apple leaves were used to make a salad with shrimp and pork. After preparation these leaves will have a sweet and fresh taste. The leaves combined with the sweetness coming of the pork and shrimp made the dish a very attractive one, and delighted the diners. He used the custard apples to make a sauce, whilst its trunk was dried to make tea custard apple tea is not only good for your health but also have impact as it contains known medicinal properties.

The traditional country feature of the salad dish presented by Kim Do hotel team
The dessert on the party table carries the green color of young custard apples together with the orange of custard apples

The key spice is from the fruit and leaves of custard apples. Chef Nhu Cuong and his team received excellent compliments from the judge, for an innovative and complicated menu. Mrs Bui Thi Suong, food expert, commented, “This is a difficult subject because if it is not done carefully, the same tastes and flavors will be repeated in all dishes. However, done correctly, there is a diversity of tastes and flavors in each dish. Congratulations! Your team showed confidence and good team coordination, they were friendly and opened minded. The color of your food is also very beautiful”
Readers can ask for further information about dishes that use “trái giác” as a key spice. These were the dishes done by Kim Do Hotel team in the preliminary rounds of the Golden Spoon contest 2015-HCM City region and Southeast region.


Outlet: Kim Do Hotel

Address: 133 Nguyen Hue St. Ben Nghe Ward, Dist 1, HCM City

Tel: (08) 3822 5914 - 3822 5915

Fax: (08) 3822 5913

Email: //

Kim Do Hotel is an international 4-star hotel located in a central area, near administrative departments, trading buildings, tourist area, shopping malls and entertainment centers in HCM City. The restaurant chain of Kim Do hotel includes: the Royal Café (designed in a European style and located in the main street Nguyen Hue; the main walking street in Saigon)

With a diversity of drinks, Royal Café’s menu has European and Asian dishes; Boulevard Restaurant on the 4th floor of the hotel can accommodate 180 guests in a modern setting with elegant decor. Diners enjoy great views of Nguyen Hue. The restaurant’s menu features Asian and European style cooking as well as Vietnamese traditional dishes.

With a special location like that Kim Do enjoys an advantage in business development

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