At lunchtime, I always feel like experimenting with new foods because I feel like I deserve it after working hard all morning in an office. Recently, I happened to walk by a busy Vietnamese restaurant on Phan Kế Bính, which is known as “Japanese street” because of the number of Japanese eateries it has. I was intrigued, so gave it a shot.
Finding Lạc is simple, directly on the road, marked by a noticeable signboard. When you go in, you see a laid-back courtyard with both a wood and charcoal clay grill.
|Lạc is a restaurant where traditional Vietnamese flavours meet modern charm. VNS Photo Hamy Nguyễn
I was there at noon and the stove wasn’t lit, but I can’t wait to go back in the evening and spend a warm winter’s night by the fire.
I went with a group of four people and was seated at an outdoor table designed to resemble a stream running through the middle. The staff told me, I was fortunate that day because typically outdoor tables are reserved, but someone had just left. Lucky me.
|Crispy fried frog legs with Tomyum sauce. VNS Photo Hamy Nguyễn
Outdoor seating with Lạc is highly recommended as it makes for a more enjoyable experience. A simulated well, a meandering stream, and an abundance of trees create a wonderful outdoor scene that makes you feel close to nature.
The fact that the drink menu is 12 pages long compared to the food menu’s three, suggests the restaurant is a good spot for drinking.
It’s easy to try several dishes because they are served in small servings, perfect for 1-2 people. Interesting Vietnamese puns are included in the menu, which primarily consists of charcoal-grilled skewers.
We ordered a few dishes for appetisers, and the dishes are combined in a spontaneous way you are unlikely to find anywhere else.
From Khoai Lạc – fried sweet potatoes dipped in creamy spicy crab sauce (VNĐ160,000) to crispy fried frog legs with Tom yum sauce (VNĐ80,000), each combination brought a memorable experience.
|Lạc Thú is a dish of wagyu beef tartare seasoned with ingredients from the North West. VNS Photo Hamy Nguyễn
The Lạc Thú (VNĐ220,000) was a dish of wagyu beef tartare seasoned with ingredients from the northwest. It has a really eye-catching and vibrant look. I have experienced raw beef before, usually French or Italian. But this is the first time I’ve had it with Vietnamese spices. Surprisingly, everything harmonised well, with none of the flavours overpowering each other.
The charcoal-grilled skewers were the dishes we were most excited about, and they are the signature dishes in Lạc. Even though we only ordered roughly five skewers, we were given three distinct kinds of dipping sauces: a sweet and salty green chilli sauce, a creamy peanut butter sauce, and a soy sauce with marinated egg yolks.
|Charcoal-grilled skewers are introduced as typical dishes in Lạc. VNS Photo Hamy Nguyễn
The skewers that left the strongest impression on me were the chicken wings stuffed with Vietnamese sausage and sticky rice (VNĐ60,000), the wagyu beef flank (VNĐ135,000), and the eel (VNĐ55,000).
The chicken wings had a wonderfully fragrant smoky flavour, and the combination of various ingredients added an interesting and complex texture.
The wagyu beef was incredibly tender and juicy, melting in the mouth, while the eel was chewy and fatty, providing a delightful taste. I wasn’t a big fan of the beef tongue (VNĐ45,000) as it was slightly on the tough side.
Our lunch ended with a bowl of Thập Lạc porridge (VNĐ120,000) composed of 10 different kinds of grains. The porridge, which features marinated egg and char siu pork tenderloin, looks like ramen noodles at first. Rich and filling, the porridge’s savoury broth added depth to the dish’s thick texture. Add just a tiny touch of pepper for a cosy and welcoming finish.
|Thập Lạc porridge is composed of 10 different kinds of grains. VNS Photo Hamy Nguyễn
The restaurant turned out to be fascinating and offered a welcome diversion from the customary business lunch routine. The only drawback was the relatively limited menu; on my next visit, I may not have the opportunity to explore many new dishes. But the atmosphere was calming, cosy, and very restful. When you walk into the restaurant, the chaos seems to disappear, and you are enveloped in peace. Along with the delicious food, you can’t ask for much more than that.
Source: Vietnam News