Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 46: Mot Hai Ba
Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.
The chatter was palpable when Colleen O'Hare and Jeana Johnson announced their intention to open a Vietnamese restaurant. Sure, they had opened a successful taco place, but what did they know about lemongrass and turmeric?
It turns out they know enough. Since opening this spring, the restaurant has served consistently delicious dishes inspired by the chef-duo's travels through Vietnam.
Grilled pork vermicelli is seldom this good. The kitchen chars pork belly aggressively and pairs it with slightly pungent fish sauce. Crab legs are served on top of noodles dressed in a sauce made from the crab tomalley, and frogs legs are fried in batter flecked with dill. It's hard to get bored with the menu here.
And don't pass on the salads, which are bright, fresh and alive with flavor. The banana flower salad features tender shredded chicken, tart papaya and crisp fried shallots while a traditional papaya salad features a welcomed addition of beef jerky for texture and flavor. Both ruin the ubiquitous "house" salad for forever.
The spicy aggressive flavors featured in Vietnamese cooking pair perfectly with the Belgian beers on the menu here. Order a bomber and a few glasses for your table and settle in. A meal at Mot Hai Ba won't replace a plane ticket to Vietnam, but the restaurant has made and indelible mark on the neighborhood.