Boutique’s Best Breakfast

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Good morning, Vietnamese way.

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Your taxi arrives at the hotel and, from the blue, a bellboy appears opening the taxi door for you. He (mostly ‘he’) takes your luggage inside and asks you to have a seat. Then another hotel staff member approaches you with a tray in their hand on which there are cold towels for refreshing rolled neatly into round tubes decorated on top with a fresh purple orchid flower. Still another staff member comes and offers you nước sấu, a traditional Hà Nội cold drink. (In fact, the sweet-salty-and-sour drink is made from pickled sấu, the kind of fruit found in Hà Nội only.) You are served like kings and queens.

This is not a welcome you receive from a four- or five-star hotel. You have actually arrived at a three-star boutique hotel in Hà Nội, Meracus 2. In Việt Nam, boutique hotels are a new version of privately owned mini hotels that mushroomed in the late 80s and the 90s as the country started the economic reforms that led to the free market environment as it is today. Over time, mini hotels were no longer up to the task of meeting the increasing demands of both foreign and domestic clients in terms of quality and attitude of service. That is when boutique hotels came into the picture. They are the ‘thing’ of the twenty-first century in Việt Nam and their new name reflects the new time and new development in the level of professional service that hotel staff embody.

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Flowers and division curtain in the room.

At Meracus 2, hotel staff think of ‘boutique’ in association with ‘elegance’ – and they do represent it in the way they carry themselves and conduct their everyday business with their clients. The hotel staff in the areas of management, reception, restaurant are all college graduates majoring in Tourism, or vocational school graduates majoring in Cooking – all of them having at least one year of working experience in the field. Young, professional, and with good working ethics are what all Meracus 2 staff have in common. Together, they run the hotel like a family business creating a very cozy atmosphere for their clients to have a pleasant stay. Every single staff member at Meracus 2 puts their smile on their sleeves. They say their mission is to please the customers and make their stay the most comfortable and enjoyable. And they have succeeded.

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Part of the kitchen team (left to right): Assistant Chef Quân Hồng Nguyễn, Waitress Hoa (Hana) Nguyễn, Chef Bình Thanh Lưu, Waitress Huyền Dương.

I talk about Meracus 2 because that is where I stayed for a week. It is where the staff go to great length to help you with travel information, transportation, luggage keeping, and others; and they do treat you like family. Meracus, including Meracus 1 and Meracus 2, are striving to become the leading Vietnamese trusted brand on hospitality. To prove their determination, right after their opening on September 2011, Meracus 1 received the Certificate of Excellence for 2012 and 2013 from Tripadvisor, thus putting it in the current rank of 8 over 475 hotels in Hà Nội . On top of that, Meracus 1 was also the Travelers’ Choice 2013 Winner ranking 5th on the list of 25 Best Hotels in Việt Nam voted by Tripadvisor. Meracus 2 opened on late February 2013. According to Ms. Lan Hà Lã, Sale Manager of Meracus 2, “the key staff who have contributed to Meracus 1’s success are now working at Meracus 2.” They are definitely aiming at repeating their own records, as guests at Meracus 2 can clearly feel the high quality of service they receive here.  

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At Meracus 2, besides the smiling staff, the daily fresh fruits and flowers (the VIP room has three vases in total including a big one in the living-room area, one on the reading table, and one in the bathroom), breakfast is beyond expectation. I would say it is gourmet food. Instead of the regular breakfast buffet as in other hotels, Meracus 2 has a menu that their guests can order from: beverage, appetizers, main courses, vegetarian dishes, desserts. The food is prepared on order, tasty and fresh. I tried to eat as much as I could during the six days of my stay to have a good taste of all the food they offer, but I could only cover half the menu. Maybe if you eat more you could go through the whole menu in a week. The menu includes carefully selected dishes from mainly Western and Vietnamese cuisine, plus a small selection of some Japanese, Indonesian, and Mexican food. Everything that I ordered was amazing. Each dish coming out, eating with my eyes first, I already feft partially full.

* Fresh fruit, and coffee in such a cute cup to start the morning will make your day.

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* For a Western flavor, I had half the portion of French toast: thick cut French toast served with real Canadian maple syrup, bacon and shredded coconut. The combination of flavors and textures among the sweet syrup and the salty and crunchy bacon, the sweet and softly crispy coconut shreds, and the sweet and buttery toast is such a pleasure in the mouth.

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* Chef’s eggs benedict with perfectly poached egg is another pleasure. Capers and roasted garlic make all the difference.

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* Corned beef is perfectly prepared. No complaint whatsoever.

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* For Vietnamese cuisine, try Chef’s phở. It has become the restaurant clients’ favorite.

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* Can anyone really resist this moist and smoky fried rice in a coconut? I usually don’t like fried rice, and this one changes my mind.

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* Gỏi cuốn is as delicious as it looks beautifully.

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* Seafood pomelo salad is pretty, tasty, and healthy. What else can one ask for?

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* One more surprise at Meracus 2 is the Today’s Special that the chefs have been developing and that hotel guests have received warmly. Cream egg is their new creation that may become an all-time favorite.

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Buon Appetito!

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