I’m inspired by the upstarts forging ahead in such a trying time. I had the pleasure of dining at Ha’s Dac Biet, still a pop-up, a few weeks back at Dame, which hosts pop-ups in its West Village space on Sundays. I also highly recommend Dame, a seafood delight on its own.
My first mention on Ha’s Dac Biet is that in a city bursting with food, really great Vietnamese cuisine is more difficult to find than NYC, especially those that stray from convention. I spent a month in Vietnam awhile back and found myself craving the layers of aromatic flavors and fresh seafood. Ha’s Dac Biet answered the call with traditional dishes and some with a touch of fusion. Their menu rotates at each pop-up, but these are a good sampling below.
For the starters, I loved the grilled oysters swimming in scallion oil and peanuts. I moved onto the crispy shrimp heads, scrumptious crunch with lime, garlic, and fish sauce. I feel like Cha Gio often treated as almost a throwaway item by some restaurants, definitely not by these folks.
Then I indulged in grilled shrimp covered by what can be described as Vietnamese-style chimichurri. So flavorful and unique. The Cha Gio, or fried spring rolls, easily rivals anything I ate in Vietnam. For the the heavier main, a deconstructed meatball sandwich of sorts, surprised me with the complexity of flavor. The meatballs absorbed the fresh flavors of lemon grass, peppers, and basil nestled in strong tomato broth that went well with a fresh baguette. The herb salad was the showstopper for me, really tasted like Southeast Asia on a plate with peppers, peanuts, tomato, and scooped by prawn chips. The least overtly seafood and heavy item was a surprise favorite.
I finished the meal with Che, a traditional Vietnamese dessert, light and refreshing with pandan and tapioca pudding with fresh fruit. Really ended the meal right.
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