By Nguyễn Mỹ Hà
DOG'S DINER: Set in the beautiful yet gloomy city of Đà Lạt, an eatery with a provocative name caters to customer palates and soothes their appetite. Photo courtesy of Cửa hiệu tự sát
The ongoing pandemic has worn many people down. After periods of working from home and minimal socialising, there have been reports of depression starting to show. It was no wonder the restaurant The Suicide Shop caught my attention when recently browsing online.
The restaurant brands itself with gusto, looking to be both authoritative when introducing its food, and objective when it comes to commenting on the experience.
"The shop wants to present to you with an accumulation of the world’s culinary offerings, picked up from elsewhere, and sold as inspiration suggests!" reads one of many salty posts on the shop's fan page, with a touch of humour.
Located in the hilly city of Đà Lạt, this shop claims to have the warmth of a home kitchen and a chef who cooks for diners the same way as she would for herself.
I must state upfront that I have not yet dined in this obscure yet interesting venue. But those in the Đà Lạt environs ought to give it a whirl; thus far it has not had many diners.
It has a fixed menu including two sets of roasted ribs, steak, or a vegetarian set menu over five courses. However, the chef often makes things to her liking, on the hoof.
She is particularly fond of doing a beef stew with black draught beer. And she takes requests, with recent ones including baked scallops with cheese, and escargots stir-fried with butter and garlic.
"The shop is confident that our chef can concoct sauces without any rules, and they will always taste delicious whatever ingredients are readily in the kitchen,” the restaurant breezily claims.
Would you not be tempted to try something from such a cocksure restaurant? I was won over and will drop by 'the shop' as soon as I get a chance to go to Đà Lạt.
"We do not have a fixed sauce for our dishes. Sauces will always be cooked up at moment's inspiration or by the diner's dominant appearance, i.e. by the chef's perception of what the guest may like," they boldly claim. Such words are surely enough to pique anyone’s interest.
PORCINE PERFECTION: Crispy roasted pork belly with a 'spontaneous sauce' is available. Photo courtesy of Cửa hiệu tự sát
One of the shop's signature dishes, beef stew (VNĐ115,000), is not listed on the fixed menu. When the chef feels like cooking it, she announces it on the shop's Facebook page, though they will rustle it up if you order in advance.
The ‘shop' also refuses to deliver because "having it on the spot gives you a better feel for this dish". This restaurant is clearly all about fun and spontaneity.
One much sought-after dish is named Stairway to Heaven (VNĐ345,000 a set, enough for two). It’s a meaty concoction full of ribs and, and it is strongly advised that you order in advance as it takes about an hour to make.
A recent post from the eatery said, "We beg you to try our Paradise steak set, we have got bored of cooking ribs.”
Another said, "We have the Suicide variation of Milk Tea, but be warned it will not make you thinner."
The restaurant’s marketing strategy is as catchy as they come and bound to grab the attention of those who have been bored for too long.
The restaurant was named after the French animated film, Le Magasin des Suicides (The Suicide Shop), released in 2012.
The film, based on a book of the same name, revolves around a family that live in a dark rundown city with a high suicide rate, and a birth of a child causes widespread chaos. Eventually the shop sells cyanide-laced crepes for those who long for death. It’s all rather outré inspiration for a restaurant, to say the least.
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Some of the dishes on menu are meant for two people. Photo courtesy of Cửa hiệu tự sát
This eatery could not be located anywhere more appropriate than Đà Lạt, a city that has an endless sorrow to it, a slow rhythm of life and a touch of the French bizarre, with its beautiful dilapidated villas and mansions.
The ‘shop’ in Đà Lạt offers so-called 'suicide sauces', which the chef cooks up to hook in diners on the delicious food so that they will be happy again.
The restaurant is for those that want to find joy in life, not embrace death. Nevertheless, just to be on the safe side, we should add that we take no responsibility whatsoever for any actions taken by those who visit this venue after reading this article. VNS