The year was 1936. It was “La Belle Epoque” in Indochina. Saigon was the Paris of the Orient, and Le Dalat, le Bois de Boulogne of South Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine was at long last being accepted by the French, adding a few Gallic flavours of their own.
In this atmosphere of peace and prosperity, a stunning young woman, Hoa Ly, had just finished her education at the famous Couvent des Oiseaux, on Rue Mac Mahon, now renamed Cong Ly. Just two decades before, in 1926 her grandmother Madame Lam Ngoc Thanh had co-founded the Cao Dai religion sect, a unique blend of Confucius, Buddhist and Christian philosophies, worshipping universal goodness.
Madame Doan-Hoa-Ly, as she is known today, married the dashing young son of the French Governor of Laos. As a direct descendant of the founder of the Cao Dai and the daughter-in-law of the governor, Hoa Ly was fortunate to experience the lavish entertainment lifestyle of this halcyon era.
Annamese mandarins,colonial civil servants, French ministers and foreign diplomats alike were dazzled by her family’s lavish lifestyle. She had developed a passion for cooking, and she was often seen in the kitchen savouring the dishes before they were served to guests.
The tradition of this era are kept alive today at le Dalat Indochine. The décor, the atmosphere and the fading photographs on the wall bear witness to the life and times of this remarkable woman.
- Le Dalat is a tribute to Madame Hoa Ly. -