May 06, 2010

Da Lat: Really Good Vietnamese Food for Really Cheap
I went to Da Lat on Broad Street in Richmond (out near Short Pump) last night with my roommate C, and it was pretty great. The restaurant itself is what you might expect: over-air conditioned, filled with kitschy, ambiguously Asian trinkets, and dimly lit. But the service is great, which more than made up for it.

I started with the vegetable dumplings, which were fine. Although they appeared to be filled with chopped spinach and onions, there was no real vegetable taste to them. I probably wouldn't order them again, but they also weren't offensive in any way. If you like fried doughy stuff dipped in generic dumpling sauce, you'll love them.

For my main course, I ordered the Bun Thit Cha Gio, which consists of rice noodles with shredded carrots and cucumbers, bean sprouts, chopped up spring rolls, pork, mint, and crushed peanuts. It was only $6.95 for a large bowl, and the serving was just right. By just right, I mean too big but not so big that I felt disgusting after eating the whole thing (did I tell you that I have no self restraint?). The mint, cucumber, and sprouts gave it a wonderful fresh taste, which was really nice on such a hot evening.

Also worth mentioning is the generous hand with which Da Lat's servers pour glasses of wine. I ordered a glass of Cabernet last night, and the waiter nearly spilled it when he set it down on the table because it was so full. I mean, it was like a tankard of wine. $5 for 2-3 realistic servings of red wine? I'll take it.

I'd definitely go back to Da Lat. The prices are fantastic, it's really close to my house (well, for about another month...until I move!!!!), and the food is great. One last warning: don't eat the complimentary mints! They look like they're spearmint-flavored, but it's a dirty trick; they taste like turpentine, limes, and coconuts. Stick to the free toothpicks.

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