|Spacious ambience: An overview of the Lang Chuon Hoi Quan. — VNS Photos Cong Thanh
by Hoai Nam
Born in Chuon, an ancient village in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, Dang Van Thanh and his partners opened a restaurant named after the village, Lang Chuon Hoi Quan (Chuon village restaurant) in downtown Da Nang City.
It is a goat meat restaurant and a rendezvous for gastronomes of traditional cuisine and the specialty drink from the ancient village.
The food is believed to be a cure for malnutrition and after a long illness, just like the cure that oriental medicine offers.
Meat goats that are fed for a few months at the farms in the suburbs of Da Nang, is used for cooking the best food as it is soft and does not have too much fat.
Male gastronomes often say this in whispers that goat meat is good for men's vigour when cooked along with some medicinal herbs.
"It is a traditional cuisine popular for generations among Vietnamese. Goat meat is an easy-to-cook dish that also smells delicious. It can be served steamed, barbecued, stir-fried or as a curry," the restaurant chef, Phan Van Sy, said.
"One often orders a thigh along with three dishes at a cost of VND600,000 (nearly US$30), while they taste other food at the restaurant," he suggested.
Tran Tuan is a businessman who often comes to the restaurant with friends for a weekend party.
"Seafood is always a regular choice at home or at a restaurant. I, sometimes, for a change, visit different restaurants for beef, chicken, pork or goat," Tuan said.
"However, I have to find out which restaurant is the best for its cooking style. Each restaurant cooks a speciality that the chef has mastered, and we come not only for the food but for the fun and the rendezvous," he said.
|Stewing: Goat curry hot pot
Tuan ordered a thigh for his group of four with three dishes - steam, grill and bamboo shoot hot-pot.
"It is a complete menu as we taste a thigh with delicious dishes, and you get the full piece for a reasonable price," he said.
Chef Sy sliced the 1.2 kilogram thigh into a filet to steam it with medlar seed, poor ginseng (acanthopanax), citronella, ginger and chilli.
"It is a mixture of yin and yang. Goat meat is cold and it needs warm and hot ingredients - medlar seed, citronella, ginger and chili - while ginseng provides the tonic element," the chef explained.
"It is a dish prepared very quickly, and served to visitors hot in five to 10 minutes. We suggest gastronomes use the steam with fresh water shrimp paste or salt with green chili and lime," he said.
Tuan said steam thigh filet was soft and meant for quick cooking.
"It is very tasty and delicious. The meat is very soft, and not tough. The flavour of the steamed meat is enhanced by medicinal herbs and citronella. I almost salivated when the dish was placed on the table," he said.
"The dish is often eaten with sliced green banana, fresh citronella and sweet basil as herbs stimulate digestion and are tasty," he said.
|In the flesh: Grilled goat thigh is eaten with herbs, salt and lime at the Lang Chuon Hoi Quan (Chuon village restaurant) in the central Da Nang City's downtown.
Tuan said the dish must be used with sticky rice wine from Chuon Village.
He said the village has a history of 600 years of producing wine, naturally fermented with pristine material.
"The village, situated near the Chuon Lagoon, in the Tam Giang-Cau Hai Lagoon system, was known as a place offering good rice wine to the kings of the Nguyen dynasty," Tuan said.
"Villagers still preserve the old recipe and the wine is the favoured drink of guests."
Dang Van Thanh, the owner of the restaurant, said he collected a very old brass pot that was used to make rice wine at the village.
"I set up a firewood stove and the pot at the restaurant to demonstrate the traditional production of rice wine from the ancient village," Thanh said.
"I also use a terra-cotta jar, which is a kind of cooling equipment used when the rice wine is being produced. We keep rice wine bottles in deep wells for months just as the wine was stored in the village centuries ago," he said.
He said the wine is not as strong as vodka, but it has the sweet-smell of sticky rice with low alcohol percentage.
The story of wine making was interrupted when the waiter offered the second dish.
The goat thigh, which was partly sliced for steam, with bone was grilled on a charcoal pit on the spot.
Lang Chuon Hoi Quan (Chuon Village restaurant)
Address: 78, Quang Trung Street, Da Nang
Hour: 8am to 10.30pm
Price: VND40,000-890,000 for a dish
Comment: Delicious food, reasonably priced and open air.
"It is primary cuisine that connoisseurs prefer," Vo Thi Thuy Tien, a staff member at the restaurant, suggested.
"Food lovers can cut every piece of the meat at the table or they can ask waiters to serve it," she said.
"The grilled dish makes for a change when you smell smoke and flavour of goat meat. The chef often soaks the thigh with citronella and chilli. You can smell the smoke of grilled herbs and meat," Pham Nhu Thanh, a visitor, said.
Thanh said the chef reserved the bone for making a sweet broth and bamboo shoot. The soup is eaten with rice noodles, or sometimes with rice and black bean soup offered at the party.
Sy, who has 10 years of experience in cooking goat meat, said the restaurant also offers a steamed chicken dish at VND230,000 per chicken.
"We offer guests steamed or grilled chicken set on bamboo trays with banana leaves. It reminds people of the cuisine and style from a village," he said.
He added that the restaurant also serves fish, frog and eel for different choices.
The restaurant, which is built with bamboo and timber decoration, has 100 seats.
It is quite reasonable for a meeting of family or friends on the weekend. — VNS