Dalat: In search of Pho Nirvana

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Dalat (2109 Avent Ferry Rd, Raleigh NC)  was one of my favorite lunchtime work hangouts back when I used to work on that side of town, so I was actually rather excited to go back for the first time in a year.  Now, I know that Dalat bills itself as an “Asian” restaurant and it does serve several Chinese dishes that I’m sure are quite good, but really this place shines most as a Vietnamese place.  I have never been inclined to order off the Chinese portion of the menu (nor will ever) because I am such a huge fan of their Vietnamese food.  I also kinda feel like I should order Vietnamese in a restaurant named for a city in Vietnam.

Despite what I see as a bit of cluttered menu, I have never been dissatisfied with a meal at Dalat, and I was once again very pleased with both our service and the food that I ordered.  Rather than go with my normal pho, I went with deluxe Vietnamese Crepe which is a crispy corn based crepe filled with the beansprouts, cilantro, and the meat of your choice.   I think that I was drawn to the dish because squid was one of the ingredients.   I have a tendency to get excited about almost anything that involves squid, and this was a particularly exemplary case of my love of this seafood.  The fresh savory morsels of squid went great with the pork, shrimp, and what I think may have been a touch of fish sauce.   With the slight bite of the cilantro and the crunchy bean sprouts it almost seemed as if the tastes of pho had been combined with some of my favorite seafood and put inside the crispy shell of the crepe.  I also happened to get a chance to sample some Laotian beer in the form of a dark Beer Lao.  This beer was reminiscent of a  brown ale or maybe a lighter porter with slightly chocolate undertones  and it had a smoothness that is not always present in darker beer.   I was very happy that this trip to Dalat resulted in the sampling of both a new Vietnamese dish and a Southeast Asian beer both of whch I loved.

Dalat is a great little restaurant just off of NCSU campus where you can always get a great of authentic Vietnamese food and some really great Southeast Asian beer.

-T

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