The Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi has a Chocolate Buffet. Yes, you heard me correctly; an all you can eat buffet celebrating chocolate. I found this out while doing my research on Hanoi and so we made a point to visit the Sofitel near the French Quarter one day at 3pm, right when it started.
The Sofitel is quite a stunning hotel. It is a gorgeous colonial style building. The hotel also has a very rich history and several information panels along the walls introduce you to some of the highlights of that history. Guests at the hotel also have access to a free tour guided by the hotel’s Ambassador of History.
The Chocolate Buffet takes place in the Club Bar, a beautiful gazebo with green white and light purple chairs. The staff give us a very nice table right next to the window which feels very private but still gives us a good view of the whole area. It has just started to rain outside and we can hear the rain drops softly falling on the glass roof above us. In the background romantic 1920’s jazz serenades us as the staff set our table with two crisp white cotton placemats and a glass of water. Inside the décor is all 1920’s inspired. It takes you to another world altogether. The other tables are filled with business men and women taking a break or meeting with clients. There is a group of Australian women expats all dressed up in fancy dresses drinking champagne. A few guests come in from the pool to enjoy the buffet and refresh with a fruity drink. Hanoi seems very far away, at least the Hanoi of today.
Which brings me to the chocolate buffet. Believe it or not I am not a huge fan of chocolate. I find it too sweet (hot chocolate, of course is another thing altogether). But because of the French influence I was expecting that this chocolate buffet would be filled with beautifully delicate chocolate creations that would have the right balance of sweetness and of course look divine. It was exactly that. One large wall near the bar is covered in multiple layers of chocolate platters, each with a different delicacy. There are chocolate millefeuille, chocolate mousse, tiny chocolate éclairs, chocolate covered orange rinds, and a chocolate crème brulee in a large spoon. A whole area has lots of little chocolates filled with everything from bailey’s, coffee to different fruits. There are chocolate covered nuts, chocolate brownie with a raspberry on top, and chocolate cakes. There is an area where they can make you little chocolate filled crepes fried in orange juice and Grand Marnier which were incredible. And everything is in miniature, bite size serving. If you have had (and we never did) enough of the chocolate you also have access to a range of sandwiches, juices and fruits that have no chocolate in them to balance things out.
I was hoping they would have a hot chocolate as part of the buffet, and fortunately they did. They didn’t just have one hot chocolate, they had six different hot chocolates. There were 6 little glass containers with chunks of different types of chocolate, white chocolate, 70% dark chocolate, milk chocolate. I chose the Belgium Dark Chocolate. The chef takes a few chunks of the chocolate and puts them into a pot on a little stove right there in front of me. As the chocolate is melting she adds a little milk and stirs it all up. When it is ready, she takes a little cup, puts about a tablespoon of cream at the bottom and then fills the rest with the melted chocolate and milk mixture. She then places a little piece of the dark chocolate on the side.
I have been drinking hot chocolate for many years and I can safely say that up until this point, this is one of the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted. It was so simple yet so delicious. It was thick but not too thick, sweet but not too sweet, chocolatey but not too chocolately, creamy but not too creamy. It just coats your insides as you drink it and seems to hug you from the inside out. I truly felt like I had been transported to another, very happy place. And it wasn’t the sugar high saying all this. I had a hot chocolate before I even started eating the buffet. The waitress kept asking me if I wanted tea and coffee because it is included in the buffet price. Who cares about tea and coffee! I have my hot chocolate.
The test of an incredible hot chocolate? I went back for a second one at the end of the day and enjoyed the second one just as much as the first one. Is this the ultimate hot chocolate? I’m not sure if after only writing this blog for 7 or so months I can already say I have found the ultimate hot chocolate. There have been a few over the past months that have come close. But this one was just so good, that it’s tempting to give it the title.
Verdict: The chocolate buffet costs 25 dollars a person which seems steep at first but I can’t imagine anyone regrets it. We stayed there from when they set up at 3pm to when they stopped at 5.30 and loved every minute of it. Sofitel, Club Bar, 15 Ngo Quyen Street, Hanoi, Vietnam