Dalat's Hunt For Constant Improvement

Categories: Food News

Dalat_CondimentsBar.jpg
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A condiment bar lets you top off your dishes with pickled red onions, cilantro, jalapeños, sambal and more.
Watching Dalat, the subject of this week's review, evolve over the past few months has been a lot of fun. I dropped in for my first visit just before they opened, mostly because I wanted to see what owner Khahn Nguyen had done with the old RedFork space, and also because I was craving a bowl of pho. Initially, I was blown away by the broth in both the chicken and beef versions, but the noodles were way too soft and underwhelming.

Each time I stopped by, though, you could see evidence of Nguyen tinkering with the menu. Some of those changes were for the better; the noodles firmed up considerably, some not so much. The broth fluctuated from fine to super salty and back again across numerous visits. Still, I got the sense that the overall trend was continuous improvement. You could tell Nguyen is busting his ass in the kitchen trying to work through every nuance of every dish.

During my phone interview, I talked to Nguyen about the beef in his vermicelli bowls and spring rolls. The menu described the meat as wok-seared, but what arrived was pale and lifeless, almost like it had been steamed. I asked how the meat was being cooked -- was the pan overcrowded, preventing the meat from searing? No, Nguyen fires each batch to order. We eventually figured that some of the wet seasonings he was using while trying to sear the meat were boiling away, keeping the meat from browning.

The day we were set to print, Nguyen emailed me to tell me he fixed his meat problem. He now sears the meat alone in the pan for a touch before adding his seasonings later, getting the best of both worlds. I obviously wasn't able to check out the beef before print, but I liked that Nguyen was at it again, constantly adjusting, refining and ultimately improving. I'm excited to see what Dalat will be like after a couple more months of Nguyen's work. He told me Asian fusion tacos have just been added to the menu, and a chili that was only served on occasion has now been made a permanent addition to the menu. It sounds like the neighborhood's late-night taco battle is really heating up.

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Location Info

Dalat

2537 N. Fitzhugh Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant


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1 comments
Brooks Anderson
Brooks Anderson

I eat loads and loads of pho. One of my very best friends is Vietnamese, and I was first introduced to it in 1993 in Oklahoma of all places. Ate it 2-4 times a week while at Law School in Houston from 1995 - 1998 and then when I returned to Dallas I was a regular at a few spots. I've also had my buddy's mother's homemade (oh my god) a couple dozen times over the last 19 years. None of this means I am an authority, but it does mean that I know exactly what I like in a bowl of pho. While Dalat doesn't have my 2 favorite meats (tendon and tripe - love the texture of both), Dalat does have what I consider to be one of the best broths in town - fragrant and delicious. Dalat has made its way to my rotation and I end up there about twice a month.

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