The freshest of seafood with advice and wisdom from veteran fishermen and locals on how to enjoy it the best await you in Da Nang. Hoai Nam gets somewhat tipsy in telling the story
|Dear, dear: The flowery lobster is the most expensive crustacean served at Little Anh. — VNS Photos Hoai Nam
Along the road of crowded seafood restaurants that faces the sea in Da Nang, Be Anh (Little Anh) draws locals with fresh fare and reasonable prices.
Owner Dinh Thi Anh, 37, was born in a fishing village on nearby Son Tra peninsula. She got her start as a street vendor of grilled fish before opening the restaurant.
You can order a range of fish, squid or oysters from the aquarium, caught by local fishermen from the sea early in the morning. Once you order them, they hit the plate within 15 minutes.
"Local fishermen paddle their coracles to the sea at night and come back with full catches of fish and shrimp," Anh said.
"We can prepare sashimi in local style as well as grilled lobster, fish and oysters. Da Nang is known as a destination for fish dishes."
Local diner Nguyen Huu Quy came to the restaurant with a group of friends.
"Fish is always fresh on the coast. The restaurant has reasonable prices, although of course, it's a bit more costly than the market," Quy said, adding that he typically spent VND200,000 to 400,000 (US$9.5-$19)per person.
Our party started with steamed clams. As the first glasses of rice wine and vodka were downed, a steaming pot of clams showed up. We picked the flesh from the opened shells and dipped it in a mixture of salt, green chilli, pepper and lime. I could feel the sweet and greasy taste on my tongue.
|Nuttty, juicy: Only four shrimps can fit into a dish of coconut steamed prawns.
Anh recommended drinking the broth, as the hot chili and herbs were good for digestion.
"My father, a skilful fisherman, always did so. Most fishermen drink the broth of shellfish and squid," she said.
The waiters recommended moving on to a grilled dish, so diner Tran Le Lam rushed to select a fish at the aquarium for grilling. He selected an ocellated pipefish weighing over 1 kilo, which the waiter said was the most popular fish. The orange fish was plated and decorated with sliced green banana, chilli and herbs.
The waiter brought a package of rice paper with two dipping sauces. One was soy sauce with green chilli and garlic and the other was salted fish sauce. The first bite was a tasty mixture of hot chilli, tart banana and aromatic herbs. We cheered the second dish with another round of rice wine.
|Well spread: A ray fish done just right.
The restaurant has two branches: one on My Khe Beach and one on Ho Nghinh Street, 200m from the beach.
In the evening when most people come home, it becomes crowded, filled with smoke from the outdoor kitchen and noise from feasts. Men often gather at beach restaurants on Friday to ease the stress of the working week with ocean air. In summer, refreshing beer is preferred over vodka.
A 300g dish of oyster or clams costs VND60,000, while the grilled fish costs VND200,000-300,000 per kilo. (Half-portions are available for those who want to do some sampling). Squid and lobster are the most expensive, as at all seafood restaurants. A typical party costs from VND1.5 million ($70) to VND2 million for a group of four, according to owner Anh.
Be Anh Seafood Restaurant
Address: Block No 14-15, Ho Nghinh Street, Son Tra peninsula, Da Nang City.
Price: VND60,000-1.5 million for a dish
Comment: delicious, reasonable price, quick serve, cool with ocean and beach view
Black grouper, which costs around VND500,000 per kilo, is cooked various ways. The fillet is reserved for sashimi, while the head is cooked with soup and fried scales.
We picked a black grouper out of the water for sashimi. Thin slices of grouper were set on ice, keeping the fillet fresh and not fishy. The raw fish is typically rolled in mustard leaves and eaten with soy sauce and wasabi.
All of us found the spicy sauce stingingly hot, but the pain was eased in a few seconds with some vodka.
Anh said summer was the best time for squid and oysters. Squid was the most ordered dish in summer, served with fish sauce mixed with ginger, chilli, vinegar and sugar.
"People in the central region love to have various vegetables and herbs for their seafood party including green banana, basil and carambola," she said. — VNS