Of the many reviews we read about Emperor Restaurant serving cuisine fit for Vietnamese Kings, we were disappointed to find out that it had closed. However, our concierge at the Intercontinental kindly pointed us to their sister restaurant, the Mandarin, which was conveniently located at a 10-minute walk away, on Xuan Dieu Street, and overlooking the West Lake.
Serving the best spring rolls I've ever had, these soft "cheong-fun" like rolls filled with minced dried shrimp, served with a fish-sauce based dip, were the perfect appetiser and we polished them off quicker than they could be made. We were royally delighted!
We also ordered the fish soup (which I realised when it arrived is not soup as Asians know it) and in Vietnam, they still make the distinction between soup and broth. It wasn't bad but it wasn't spectacular either since the soup did not have the essence of fish.
We were also happy to get green vegetables after a couple of days and were quite pleased that Vietnamese have a light hand when it comes to vegetables!
The interesting dish of roast chicken and sticky rice was very good separately ie. the chicken was perfectly roasted, and the sticky rice perfectly cooked. However, I'm not sure they were a match made in heaven since there didn't seem to be anything bringing them together. Perhaps we didn't know how to eat it in a way which made sense to the palate but we were pleased enough with it.
Refined Vietnamese dining which would be hard to find outside of Vietnam - worth the visit.