It was about time I did a review. I knew I’ve neglected the fine work they’ve been doing recently – so I got out their new Winter Selection. And then proceeded to unwrap it all and tuck in – all before I had even taken a photo. At that moment I knew my frame-of-mind was more into the enjoyment of chocolate than the ‘academic’ and ‘serious’ work of reviewing it. So I tucked that back into my chocolate store and replaced it with this Vietnam 80% dark which is a blend of cocoas from the Mekong Delta and Đồng Nai Provence. The reason I chose this out of my burgeoning collection is that I know I won’t be able to do anything than compare it to the range of Marou Chocolate as they’re the (to my mind at least) the definitive maker of Vietnamese chocolate.
Despite the Hotel Chocolat version being a blend, it must be compared to the Marou Đồng Nai. Of course there’s 8% in the minimum cocoa difference. But even bringing that into the mix, this chocolate is markedly different. It’s more along the lines of the Tien Giang which has a similar flavour profile (and also comes from the Mekong Delta). So much of the chocolate I review is fairly nondescript. But that certainly isn’t accusation you could throw at this chocolate. It’s very sharp, acidic, heavy on the red fruit and exhibits a touch of mango. At the very end of the melt there is an element of hazelnut but not so much of the tobacco the tasting notes suggest.
The texture isn’t as refined or creamy as the Marou chocolate either. It’s shallower, more transitory and with a much shorter melt. It doesn’t envelope the mouth and sooth the taste buds as much. It’d be wrong of me to say it was any better or worse, just different.
At £7.50 for 70g you’re looking at a £2 premium on the Hotel Chocolat version. Now if you’re a fan you’ll pay it but you could try both and compare.