Monday, July 23 2018


Quality seafood restaurant easy on the wallet

Update: July, 31/2012 - 21:12


Relaxing: The air-conditioned restaurant has an interesting decor with fishing parephernalia on the walls.
Memorable: Raw shrimp mixed with lemongrass, lime juice and mustard.
Tempting: Long scallop from Nha Trang, an amazing dish.
Perfection: White bass fish grilled over charcoal

Lang Chai Restaurant

Add: 18/A2/11 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1, HCMC.

Tel: 08 73070008

Opening hours: 11am - 10pm

Comments: Beautiful seafood in reasonable price

In my neighbourhood there's a a fair share of famous restaurants, so spotting a new one did not evoke any particular excitement.

But its name - Lang Chai (fishing village) - piqued my curiosity. As someone who loves seafood, I new I would have to give it a try.

When we arrived at the restaurant, the entire first floor was reserved by one company. So we sat in the front, on little bamboo chairs with the air conditioner providing immediate comfort from the outside weather.

I had decided that I was going to enjoy a shrimp salad with grapefruit. The dish is prepared with the main ingredients and a mix of aromatic herbs and roasted peanuts placed in a grapefruit skin. It is a perfect riposte to the warm weather, but my niece asked me to try a raw shrimp dish instead. It can't get any fresher than that, she argued, and I gave hesitant but curious consent.

It was the first time I was going to have shrimp that was raw. The dish is made with lemongrass, lime juice and mustard. It was certainly a mouth-watering dish to look at, but, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Mmm. Mmm. The small shrimps were fragrant and perfectly sour, and when you had it with some green cabbage mixed with sweetened fish sauce and red chili, it was delicious. Better than it looked, in fact. Well worth the VND60,000 price tag.

Our next dish, another winner, was the long scallop from Nha Trang, very fresh and grilled with butter and chives (VND40,000).

What makes all the dishes at Lang Chai taste better is the addition of a spicy green chili sauce.

The white bass fish grilled over charcoal (VND90,000), cooked southern style, also hit the spot. But I know that if you favour the northern style, it would be somewhat sweeter than you like.

Sea urchin, famous in Nha Trang, and the apple snail with green pepper corns are other dishes that will keep you going back to this restaurant. It is my experience that when having Vietnamese food it is advisable to tell the restaurant the style you prefer, because the tastes of the three regions of Viet Nam are totally different. I have to say that Lang Chai's strength is the southern style and the freshness of its ingredients.

"All the seafood that I get is straight from a Nha Trang source. It is delivered early every morning and I personally make sure all the food is fresh and of good quality," said 25-year-old Thu Hoa, the owner.

"Living in Ho Chi Minh City, I have seen two kinds of seafood restaurants. One is very high end, with modern designs and expensive prices, and the other is street seafood, whose quality cannot always be trusted. So I tried to create a restaurant that is easy on the wallet but still gives you high class seafood. I enjoy doing this because I simply love Vietnamese seafood!" she added.

The ambience is straightforward and stays true to the restaurant's name. The wall is adorned with a fishing net and a display area of live seafood that you can presumably choose from.

Hoa has gone further than just getting ingredients from Nha Trang. She has also employed a chef from there so the fare she serves is authentic.

She told me that if one is passionate about food, then food is elevated to culture. "It is the way you tell people all over the world about your country," she said

"I did not open Lang Chai just to make money. I thought about a future with many Lang Chai restaurants all over the world so I can showcase to people how delicious Vietnamese food really is and how beautiful the Vietnamese culture and people are." — VNS

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