Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dalat: Food

While our time in Da Lat was relatively short, we managed to cram in as many meals as humanly possible.  Bowing to the God of Brevity, here's a small smattering of food-related photographs and blurbs.

I was extremely impressed with the amount of Vegetarian restaurants around the town.  My favorite was a Banh Mi Chay (vegetarian baguette) stand I found attached to the aptly-titled Hoa Sen (Lotus Flower) at 62 Phan Dinh Phung.

Their distinctive Banh Mi's were magical.  They came complete with a spicy tofu 'pate' spread, soy-based imitation meats perfectly resembling the regular mystery products in both taste and texture, and the usual suspects (stalks of coriander, translucent daikon radish strips, carrots, and cucumber slices).  It was the first time in six months that I have actually been pleasantly full after a street sandwich.

Gavin's quick and dirty highlight was a Chinese-style Wonton Soup spot called Khu Hung he found on the same block at 129 Phan Dinh Phung.

The soup was meaty and flavorful with delicate nebular dumplings floating in an inviting broth.  Paper-thin slices of barbecued pork and stalks of greenery joined in the revelry. Truly difficult to not break a sweat after throwing in liberal quantities of hot chili paste and washing it all down with hot green tea.

On our first afternoon in town, we enjoyed two slices of fresh, piping-hot carrot cake at expat-owned and operated V Cafe (1/1 Bu Thi Xuan).  I paired my cake with a few glasses of Da Lat wine, while Gavin stuck to La Rue beer.  We enjoyed the friendly atmosphere so much that afternoon that we returned to V Cafe later that night for more drinks and live music.

Bo La Lot (tender, rare beef wrapped in wild betel leaf) was a definite highlight of our dinner at local favorite Long Hoa (3 Thang 2 quite near the central market).  While Gavin attacked his current favorite finger-food, I stuck with my simple stand-by in Vietnam - stir fried veggies and fried garlic rice.  White linens, a fanciful bar, and dirty French cartoons adorning the hallways made this place feel distinctly Occidental, but all of our dishes were prepared well and the staff was friendly and informed.

We also enjoyed a couple of great meals at family-owned Da Quy (Wild Sunflower) on 49 Truong Cong Dinh.  Fresh vegetarian spring rolls stuffed with fried tofu and veggies, something I make often at home but have never actually seen on a menu, whetted my appetite on both occasions.  Their stir-fried vegetables with tofu and Chinese-style sweet & sour catfish were excellent as well.

A complete list of Da Lat restaurants we recommend can be found in The Directory.

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