Checking in on a Much Better Dalat
When I reviewed Dalat this summer, I loved the concept of a late-night pho restaurant close to downtown but had problems with the consistency of the food I was served. My pho was salty one day and bland the next, and noodles that were consistently over-cooked would break apart when grabbed them with my chopsticks.
Still, I could tell the owner Khanh Nguyen was hard at work back in the kitchen tweaking his recipes. And what a difference six months make.
I've visited Dalat twice in the past week and on both occasions sampled two bowls of pho that were both delicious and consistent. The beef version was intense and spiced lightly with cinnamon, while the chicken version tasted light and bright in comparison. The noodles on both visits were perfect too, with a springy texture and snap that made for excellent slurping.
That's not all that has changed. I'm not in love with the drop-down jumbo television screen that now fills the back corner of the restaurant, but I do like the James Bond movies I watched playing on it. And the decor has soften a touch with new lamps, furniture and other fixtures that soften the room considerably. If I gave out such awards, I would say Dalat deserves a nomination for most improved restaurant. And it likely would win.
It seems perfect timing that the sign Nguyen is having painted on the facade of the building should be finished in the coming days. Dalat has transformed from a somewhat awkward and green concept to a mature restaurant that feels ready for serious business.