|Location, location, location: Nestled near the northwestern corner of Hoan Kiem Lake, Dinh Lang Restaurant is the only eatery that sits on the waterfront, with greatest view money can buy. — VNS Photo Truong Vi
Fish, eel, beef and pleasing seasonings come together for a satisfying multicourse meal at a traditional eatery in the heart of the capital. Thanh Ha reports.
I hadn't enjoyed tasty traditional Vietnamese dishes for a very long time until last week, when I was invited to Dinh Lang Restaurant.
It was for a party ahead of Journalist's Day (June 21).
As soon as I arrived at the restaurant, which is located on the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the capital, the server brought us each a bowl of eel soup (VND40,000-45,000 per bowl). The eel was delicious, and reminded me of my mother's eel dish I had some 20 years ago.
I enjoyed the soup so much that I intended to order another bowl, but a fellow reporter seated next to me wisely suggested I save space for many more dishes to come. "They are also as enjoyable as this soup," the friend said.
He was right.
Two servers asked us to help them make space at the centre of our table so they could place a cooker, and then he lit a fire and placed a large plate with an equally large steamed fish in soya sauce on it.
First I thought it was a red snapper that often has starchy meat, but the server said it was a fresh zool grouper priced at VND800,000 per kg.
We tried the meat as we got a go ahead from the server and it was not starchy at all but delicious without any foul smell unlike other fish.
|Fit for a king: This lotus rice was cooked with lotus seeds, wrapped in a lotus leaf and decorated with lotus petals, which only bloom in June. This dish originated in Hue royal dining and is a true delicacy for special guests.
The combined flavour of the fresh fish, soya sauce, onions, and fennel was so striking that I thought I couldn't hold my appetite any longer.
While I enjoyed the fish dish, a server brought us grilled beef with la lot (something likes betel leaves), which was priced at VND80,000 per dish.
I told myself not to eat it because we often had it in our daily meal fare, but my Japanese friend Nick Joshida told us he personally liked it very much.
"I enjoyed the dish very much during my 5-year mission in the country," he said, egging me on to try a piece.
I have a high regard for him, so I took one piece. The beef was so tasty and soft with a strong flavour of la lot and onions that I had another one.
My journalist friend Nguyen Cong Binh also agreed with me. He asked the server about the preparation.
Though we were quite full, the server brought us lotus rice (VND120,000-130,000 per earthen pot good for 4-6 persons).
Dinh Lang Restaurant
Add: 1-6 Le Thai To st, Ha Noi
Comment: Authentic Vietnamese food from Ha Noi Hue, HCM City
Open from 8:30am to 22pm
It was not the first time we were having lotus with sticky rice or pudding lotus, but this lotus rice was different. The rice was soft and had a strong aroma of lotus.
I intended to try just a spoon, but its aromatic flavour was so attractive that I enjoyed half a bowl of it.
I thought the servers will finally get us some dessert, but they brought us a spring roll stuffed with crab (VND70,000 per dish) and deep fried shrimps with bread crumbs (VND230,000 per dish).
I was so full that I could not enjoy these two dishes, but Joshida said apart from the grilled beef with la lot leaves, the crab spring roll was best.
I told him the dish was one of Viet Nam's main courses, which couldn't be avoided in a traditional party such as Tet.
Finally, a server came up to us and asked our dessert choices; we ordered seasonal fruits and cakes. We preferred frozen watermelons and grapes. It cooled us down as the heat outside was 40 degrees Celsius.
The food and the location were extremely enjoyable. — VNS