Given a choice between a kilo of raspberries and a kilo of chocolate, I'll always choose raspberries. Not that I don't like chocolate, but I just don't have the chocoholics desire to eat copious amounts of the stuff. Sure, chocolate can be truly great, but I'm much more of a fan of fruity desserts as they don't tend to overwhelm with richness the way that chocolate can.
That being said, when I heard that the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi did a daily chocolate buffet afternoon tea I knew Alissa and I had to go. A favourite of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (to the extent they named one of their restaurants after her), the 100+ year old Metropole's French colonial architecture is immediately charming.
Having arrived a little before the 3pm opening of the buffet in the hotel's luxurious Le Club Bar, we could basically choose to sit anywhere we wanted. The decision was an easy one however, as the sun room located at the rear was easily the nicest area of the bar - easily as pretty as the Tiffin Room in the Raffles.
The spread on offer was simply incredible - you could not criticise the chocolate buffet for having a limited amount of options.
There were 8 'chocolate bonbons' alone...
...plus chocolate truffles, various chocolate cakes, mousse and macarons...
Plus, just in case you had too much chocolate, they had fresh fruits, fruit juice and a lovely selection of afternoon tea sandwiches.
Being a savoury fan, I went with the sandwiches first. Where the sandwiches at the Raffles really disappointed me in their plainness, the same could not be said about these. In particular the ham and cheese sandwich was incredibly addictive, featuring a Jarlsberg-like swiss cheese and very good quality ham. Once again, the sandwiches here proved to me that Vietnamese are truly the masters of the sandwich, with the eggplant and zucchini vegetarian banh mi also being very nice.
Unsurprisingly, Alissa went straight into the chocolate. Having eaten some amazing chocolate in high end restaurants and gourmet chocolateries, we had high expectations and these chocolates did not disappoint - this was very well made chocolate that was neither overly rich or wanting for flavour. The various chocolate bonbons were all delicious,with my favourites being white chocolate and passionfruit, white chocolate and ginger, and milk chocolate and green tea.
Needless to say, we went back for more to try as many of the different options as we could.
Accompanied by some lovely tea.
Alissa and I finished up on our favourite desserts. In my case, it was a bowl of their chocolate ice cream (with some more of those amazing ham and cheese sandwiches).
As someone who has been an ice cream enthusiast all my life and an ice cream maker since I was 10, I was very impressed with both their milk and white chocolate ice creams - the perfect way for me to finish the meal.
Being the pancake fiend that she is Alissa had to finish on the crepe, and she was very happy with the white chocolate crepe she ordered - nice and thin with a good texture and creamy white chocolate filling.
The Verdict: Exceptional
It takes a lot for me to be impressed by chocolate desserts, but the Metropole's chocolate buffet was a phenomenal success that thoroughly blew the very limited and unexciting offerings at the Raffles Tiffin Room out of the water. And at roughly $35 AUD a head, this was a fraction of the Raffle's steep asking price. This is a Hanoi must do.