A First Taste of Hispania Nha Trang

The much-loved Spanish restaurant arrives in Vietnam, joining Gran Meliá Nha Trang’s roster of culinary offerings.

Gran Melia Nha Trang

The coastal city of Nha Trang in southern Vietnam has long lured those in search of annual sunshine, although not many would label the place as a gastronomic haven, let alone describe Nha Trang as a foodie destination. But as we’re about to find out, some changes are afoot in the city’s culinary scene. 

We’re en route to the brand-spanking new Gran Meliá Nha Trang resort. Located about an hour’s drive from the Cam Ranh International Airport, the opening marks the Gran Meliá brand’s first Southeast Asian property. Nestled in a private bay with 272 guestrooms and 94 European-inspired villas, the resort aims to usher in a new era of luxury travel to the port city.

Gran Melia Nha Trang

The villa where I checked in has all the charms of a welcoming contemporary Mediterranean home. The interiors are sophisticated, with a nod to the understated luxury style many resorts are opting for. From my slightly elevated private poolside perch, I found that my room faces a lagoon, which unfortunately is not open for swimming due to the high tide. Despite this, the staff were quick to point out that I could instead immerse myself in the onsen located on the hotel grounds, which I’m tempted to put to good use.

Though ambitious in the level of service (each villa comes with a personal butler), the resort approaches hospitality in a relaxed way, as reflected in its motto of living “a life well lived.”

This vivir bien concept translates to the resort’s on-site restaurants, which include the Japanese fine dining Shibui, the Mediterranean-Asian-inspired Natura, the contemporary lobby bar Theia, and the focal point of The Peak’s visit, the resort’s signature Hispania restaurant, which had just recently opened.


The open kitchen at Hispania Nha Trang.

“Hispania, with its authentic Spanish flavours and creative dishes, epitomises this concept through gastronomy,” says the resort’s General Manager Ernesto Osuna.

“Through the restaurant, our guests can experience world-class Spanish cuisine with the freshest Vietnamese ingredients. Hispania and our other dining outlets not only elevate the culinary offerings of the resort but of the city of Nha Trang,” he adds.

Hispania is already a well-known name in hospitality circles, renowned for bringing Spanish gastronomy to Europe with its outposts in London and Brussels. Its London branch, set inside a former Lloyds bank, was designed by none other than acclaimed interior designer Lorenzo Castillo.

“High-end culinary experiences are still quite limited in the city. With Hispania and our upscale Japanese restaurant Shibui, we’re growing this sector of the culinary scene”

With its Asian debut here in Vietnam, the resort aims to level up the culinary experience in Nha Trang. “High-end culinary experiences are still quite limited in the city. With Hispania and our upscale Japanese restaurant Shibui, we’re growing this sector of the culinary scene,” says Osuna adding that Gran Meliá’s distinctively Spanish heritage adds a touch of authenticity for guests to savour the essence of Spanish culture here in Asia. 

“We will be running monthly Spanish wine dinners and are already working on several signature dining experiences such as four hands dinners, workshops and chef’s table with Marcos Morán, the chef behind our menu at Hispania Nha Trang,” says Osuna. 

Hispania Nha Trang

Chef Marcos Morán.

Morán is the acclaimed fifth-generation chef of the famed Spanish institution Casa Gerardo, which has been in the Morán family for over a century. To coincide with the opening of Hispania, Morán brought in a posse of revered chefs to the resort. Pepe Solla, of the Michelin-starred Casa Solla, brings his expertise in crafting dishes with a nod to the Galicia region. There’s also Begoña Rodrigo, the star chef behind the Michelin-starred La Salita, and Andrián Mancheño from Hispania Brussels.

On my visit, we were treated to two separate multi-course degustation menus. The first one, titled The Sabores Nha Trang, is an ode to highlighting local delights from the sea and features a roll call of some of the freshest catches. It includes squid with green mojo, and a decadent dish of crab with creamy pickled almond sauce.

Hispania Nha Trang

From left to right: Pepe Solla, Begoña Rodrigo, Marcos Morán and Adrián Mancheño.

A later course (and my favourite) is Morán’s alfonsino in its juice with cockles. They are outstanding, with an umami burst of flavour from the sea. The dessert of lime, lemon yoghurt, lychee, and caramel resulted in a delicate mix of Asian and Mediterranean flavours.

But the menu that sparks the most interest is the one we had on the evening of the Hispania launch event: Inspired by Nha Trang’s coastal setting, the menu is an ode to the cuisines of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Cantabrian Seas. Chef Morán, who hails from Asturias in the north of Spain, is a region renowned for its diverse fare, which Morán highlights at his family’s restaurant. 

Hispania Nha Trang

The Alfonsino in its juice with cockles.

“A lot of the time, when you go to a restaurant, you should ask who made the dishes,” says Morán. “The plates that come from me have the same philosophy behind them as my great, great grandfather. It’s this love for the product and the gastronomy; the philosophy behind it is what’s important to me.” 

This dedication is seen throughout the Hispania menu. As plates of vegetable salad, razor clams and flowers, red mullet fritter and Berlina of eel and egg make their rounds, the starters offer a preview of some of the flavours to expect in the evening.

Hispania Nha Trang

The Salpicon of Nha Trang Lobster.

The mains featured dishes such as Begoña’s tiara of pickled and salted tuna that is simple but bursting with flavour. While the fish on a mollusc with its broth is a testament to Solla’s dexterity in handling fish. 

The meal culminated with a playful red fruit with Bailey’s cream and sesame and Solla’s chocolate and black olive creation (who knew black olive could pair so well with chocolate?). 

“Spanish luxury is about enjoying the finer things in life,” says Osuna of the experience. “Our properties are in beautiful destinations and we draw inspiration from these backdrops to create unique places to stay with stunning architecture, stellar service, top-end gastronomy and upscale experiences that immerse guests in the local culture.” 

Turns out, living well comes pretty effortlessly here, especially when the food is this good. 

Hispania Nha Trang 

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