So, the most refined Vietnamese restaurant in town
now has a shopping mall branch. While the setting can’t compare to the original’s beautiful old house (Sukhumvit Soi 23), its worn tile floors, intricate hanging decorations and preponderance of bamboo do a good job of masking the fact you’re eating in the city’s newest shiny playground (though curtaining off the seventh-floor views is odd).
Here, you’ll find a kitchen similarly focused on quality ingredients, with a more-accessible menu of classic Vietnamese recipes that have been slightly altered to match the updated decor. We’re particularly impressed with the small plates that fill the first half of the menu. The banh cuon (steamed rice crepe, B150) is a delicate option, though not quite the silky treat you get elsewhere, owing to being a little overcooked. Flavor-wise, the ground pork and mushroom filling go perfectly with the do chu (pickled daikon and carrot) dipping sauce, while the fried onion garnish takes the dish to another level. Even more impressive are the prawn crackers topped with noodles, sauteed pork and prawn (B140), which burst with a mix of textures and a light zestiness.
The more substantial dishes are all solid if slightly unspectacular, as if toned down for a non-discerning mall crowd. The pho ga (chicken noodle soup, B160), for instance, comes with a gentle, soupy broth that lacks the fullness of a long-simmered affair. The sizing is a bit on the small side, too, but we can’t fault the thin slithers of delicious chicken or the accompanying lush greens. The chao tom (pounded shrimp on sugarcane, B490) gets the texture just right—soft and springy—but tastes under-seasoned. It’s saved somewhat by a piquant hoisin peanut dipping sauce. On the other hand, the French-leaning lamb curry (B360) is a heady mix of bay leaf, ginger and turmeric, with juicy chunks of lamb, only the sad, burnt bread on the side is more crouton than baguette.
With its unwavering service, crisp decor and lengthy (if pricy) wine list, Le Dalat is one slick operation. The food is fresh and healthy, however some dishes simply lack the wow-factor that so typifies Vietnamese cuisine; and it’s a positive sign of the times that we’ve come to expect more.
This review took place in May 2015 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.