While hotels often serve up a unique dining opportunity or two for guests, few can compete with Avana Retreat, a resort in Vietnam that evolved around a once hidden waterfall deep in the mountains of Mai Chau. This month the hillside resort is rolling out a selection of new menus to be enjoyed by this one-of-a-kind waterside perch.
The towering limestone cliffs, where the waterfall reaches its peak height, form the backdrop for intimate meals set to the sounds of nature at its most raw. The setting has been left as untouched as possible. A raised walkway weaves through the old growth trees to a wooden platform at the waterfall’s base. Bookable for private dinners and intimate group parties, the deck features a kitchen, where chef and server work in unison to deliver multi-course meals, and an elevated platform area where a small band could share a performance. The whole scene is lit by the warm glow of dozens of handcrafted lanterns that are peppered throughout the space.
The experience is private with only one small group, family, friends or couples able to book the waterfall dining experience each evening. Guests have the choice of four five-course menus, two of which have just been launched. The Vietnamese Signature menu is abundant in seafood with dishes such as grilled catfish served with rice noodles and local herbs and Vietnamese spicy & sour seafood soup. A plant-based option has been added with creative fare including a burrata and tomato salad with asparagus saffron dressing and mushroom tortellini with a carrot puree and almond foam.
The Chef’s Special and a Sense of Romance, have a European touch with courses like Beef Wellington, a popular British dish, and Lobster Cognac Flambe. Local elements include a Cao Phong Orange Mousse, made from the Cao Phong oranges that are a specialty of the province, and smoked duck breast.
As an avid explorer, Avana Retreat’s founder Mr. Vu Huy, was hiking in the region over a decade ago when he had a gut feeling there was a waterfall hidden amid the forest. Locals couldn’t confirm his hunch so he set out to follow the stream and was rewarded for his efforts. The majestic cascade inspired him to develop the property to share his find, but to do so in a way that would protect the surrounding environment while giving travelers a chance to experience the awe he felt.
“Our waterfall is the heart of the retreat,” said Mr. Vu Huy. “We also realize that the way to a person’s heart is often through their stomach. We wanted to combine stellar food with an incomparable backdrop to touch their hearts and help our guests create a lifelong memory of their time in Vietnam.”
Course menus start at 4,500,000 VND ++ / pax or 9,000,000 VND ++ for two people, exclusive of wine. Reservations are essential with a recommendation to book well in advance as there is only one seating per evening. The waterfall area is also bookable for small group celebrations with the capacity to cater for up to 30 guests. For more information visit: https://avanaretreat.com/cuisine