|Dream spot: The open Danabeach restaurant lures visitors with seafood and views of the beach, where the waves literally crash at your feet.
Address: Truong Sa Street, My Khe Beach, Da Nang City
Price: VND200,000-1.5million for a dish.
Comment: Fresh and tasty food, quick serve, openair, beachfront.
When the party takes precedence and position is paramount, beachside restaurants are hard to beat. Hoai Nam
reports on one that ticks all the boxes . . . and customer can tuck into the spare ribs using their fingers.Beaches and barbecues go hand in hand, as does the owl and the pussycat and My Khe beach and Danabeach bar&restaurant in Da Nang City.
The restaurant, which overlooks the sea and is 3km east of the city centre, specialises in seafood, but stages sporting activities for tourists and offers a well-stocked bar.
It's 5pm and the weather is sweltering. What better place to retire to from the heat, and fill our stomachs, than Danabeach, which is where my friend Thuan chose to celebrate her 24th birthday with her close friends.
On making our introductions, Le Quan Le, a Saigonese chef, suggested grilled pork ribs, tiger prawns and steamed grouper.
Le, who has been a chef for 34 years, said he often receives request for his food from high-rolling gourmands in the city.
The chef said the ribs had been pre-soaked for four hours in coconut milk, flavoured with locally made fish sauce, sugar, honey, garlic and spring onions.
He explained that coconut milk makes the ribs softer and brings out all the meat's natural flavours.
Le set the ribs on a charcoal grill after carefully removing any excess fat from the meat.
"You want to grill the meat on the heat of the charcoal. You don't want flames, which will burn the food. That is why it is important to cut the fat off the meat, because when it melts, it drips onto the charcoal and makes it flare up."
Le also shuns the use of a microwave to speed up the cooking process. He said expediency comes at the expense of flavour.
Within 15 minutes of being placed on the fire, we were tucking into the ribs at a table on the beach under a palm-leaf sunshade.
The grilled ribs, which were now a golden honey colour, were served with onions, salad, tomatoes and vinegar – the tartness of which cut through the rich fatiness of the meat and offset the sweetness of the coconut milk.
We were advised that the only way to eat ribs is with the hands, which gives the meal a kind of earthy aboriginal feel.
"They're so sweet and hot," gushed Thuan, licking her fingers. "I could easily taste the coconut milk and honey."
|In the kitchen: Chef Le Quan Le prepares grouper at the Danabeach Bar&Restaurant. — VNS Photos Hoai Nam
Thuan then ordered tiger prawns.
Nguyen Minh Thien, the restaurant's owner, keeps the fish and shell fish alive in a large bamboo tank in front of the restaurant, and diners are free to select what they want to eat.
We selected five mid-sized tiger prawns, weighing perhaps 150-200 grams. The chef slit the prawns along their backs and stuffed them with butter and chopped garlic.
The prawns were grilled on an electric stove for 10 minutes, before being served with fennel and red wine.
"I was so impressed with the dish and the way the chef cooked it," said Thuan's friend Hai An, who earlier squealed with delight at the sight of the prawns happily swimming around in the bamboo water bath.
Steamed grouper was the last dish Thuan ordered.
The dish took longer to serve because Le had to debone the fish.
He said steamed grouper is best after soaking in Hong Kong wine, flavoured with soy sauce and pepper.
The fish was steamed for 10 minutes. Before serving, Le poured a sauce, flavoured with spring onions and coriander, over the fish.
Hoang Thanh Huong, another guest, said the fish was delicious. "The fish served on rice paper and salad is the way people in the central region use to eat it," she said.
"I love the taste of the sauce so much. The soy sauce worked wonderfully with the fish."
We didn't leave the now-empty table until midnight, when the girls went off to dance as a band from the Philippines played on an outdoor stage.
The restaurant opens at 10am in the morning, but the owner said most diners come around sunset. He added that the restaurant also offers overnight camping and a beach barbecue until 2am. — VNS