Đà Lạt Phố Cafe

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Cafe da Lat’s Dining Room

The “About Us” section of coffe Da Lat’s trang web boasts of “A long thực đơn of standard and less common Vietnamese dishes.” There are items on cà phê Da Lat’s thực đơn you won’t find at any other Vietnamese restaurant in Albuquerque. It’s been that way since James launched May Hong, his inaugural Duke city restaurant more than a quarter-century ago. There were only a handful of Vietnamese restaurants in Albuquerque back in 1995 and his was the only one in the Northeast Heights. Throngs of diners, especially at dinner, converged at May Hong lớn be fed well and made very happy by its captivating cuisine.

On Sunday, August 31st, 2003, James launched coffe Da Lat on Central Avenue after selling May Hong to lớn his sister-in-law. He named his new restaurant for da Lat, one of Vietnam’s most well known vacation destinations. Domain authority Lat is considered the unofficial “honeymoon capital” of Vietnam & it’s often referred khổng lồ as “Le Petit Paris.” Considering a mini-replica Eiffel Tower sits at the city center, that sobriquet is only fitting. Domain authority Lat is located on the greater Central highlands of Vietnam và at 1500 meters (~4920 feet) above sea cấp độ is one of the few cities in Vietnam surrounded by pine trees, just like James Nguyen’s adopted trang chủ of Albuquerque.

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Shrimp in Bacon: jumbo shrimp wrapped in fried bacon & topped with crushed peanuts

Curiosity-seekers will try the other Vietnamese restaurants & some will spread their business around to the ones considered worthy of their appetites, but invariably when you ask them which is the city’s very best, it’s cà phê Da Lat that comes immediately to mind for many of them. There are many reasons–not the least of which are James and the lovely Thu–that cà phê Da Lat gets the nod over formidable competition. For one thing, it’s one of the most striking Vietnamese restaurants in the thành phố thanks lớn James’s complete refurbishment of the drab, dingy remnants of the previous tenant, the Little Saigon restaurant. Attractive upscale touches, a competitive wine list; rich, dark woods và subdued lighting địa chỉ those subtle touches of class and ambiance lớn which most restaurants aspire.

Then there’s the menu: eighteen different appetizers (not khổng lồ mention five additional tofu and vegetarian appetizers), four cup-sized soups và fifteen different swimming-pool sized bowls of pho and stew–and that’s just the first page. Just trying to lớn narrow your dining choices is a tremendous challenge. The really great thing about cafe Da Lat is that you can’t go wrong no matter what you order. You may not like (make that love) some items as much as you’ll like others, but there’s probably nothing on the menu you won’t dislike.

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Baked rice cake

22 September 2021: The lime beef is fabulous! Nearly carpaccio-thin slices of seared steak are blanketed with refreshing mint and cilantro & crushed peanuts as well as grilled onion và invigorating spices. This is an appetizer for which it’s okay khổng lồ use your fingers by using the razor-thin steak as a scooping device for the complementary ingredients. Provided with the lime beef is a bowl of nuoc cham (fish sauce), the quintessential Vietnamese condiment based on fish sauce. Coffe Da Lat’s nuoc cham is among the very best in Albuquerque, but that’s a common theme.

16 June 2007: Best in the city honors (at least among the Vietnamese restaurants that don’t specialize on banh mi) might also be accorded to lớn the Banh mi Thit (pictured above), popularly known as a Vietnamese sandwich and described on the thực đơn as a hoagie. Banh ngươi is a Vietnamese word for bread & indeed, the French inspired baguette on which this sandwich is crafted, is worthy of adulation. At cafe Da Lat, the Banh mi Thit is engorged with small slices of pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, jalapenos, soy sauce, đen pepper, onions and your choice of meat: barbecue pork, grilled pork, grilled beef, grilled chicken or ground beef. No matter what your meat selection, you’ll enjoy the contrasting & complementary sweet, savory, piquant và tangy flavors as well as the textures.

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Chicken Ginger Pho

24 January 2019: Aside from the enjoying the sheer deliciousness of a visit to coffe Da Lat, it’s been a joy over the years to get lớn know James and to learn from him. James is passionate about the provenance of Vietnamese cuisine. So is fellow polymath Tom Molitor whom I met for lunch on a pleasant January afternoon. Tom is as conversant in Keynesian economics, Ayn Rand novels và epicurean pursuits (he’s a certified, award-winning sommelier) as most of us are about our children. Pay special attention lớn the comments he submits to Gil’s Thrilling… They’re thoughtful, well composed and replete with sagacity.

Like me, Tom had always thought that by strict definition the term “pho” applies to lớn rice noodle beef soup. By stringent standards, soups made with chicken, pork và seafood are technically not pho. James explained that there is one exception: Chicken ginger. The reason has to bởi vì with the commonality of ginger, an ingredient not often discernible in pho. You could have knocked us over with a feather when James taught us something new…again. Provenance và ingredient composition aside, the chicken ginger pho is an exceptional elixir replete with personality & flavor. For the most part, there’s just enough ginger khổng lồ let you know it’s there, but every once in a while you hit upon an endorphin rush generating sliver of amped up ginger. That’s when you know you’ve happened upon greatness. The chicken is cut into thick, chunky, mostly trắng meat pieces.

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Grilled Pork Over Patter Noodle

16 June 2007: Over the years we’ve sampled just about every entree James has offered either at May Hong or at coffe Da Lat, but he’ll occasionally surprise us with something new. A 2007 addition to his novel-sized thực đơn is an eggplant và pork entree (pictured below). This entree is constructed with sliced eggplant và ground pork stir fried in a sauce that seems to be equal parts tangy, spicy và sweet, a combination that only the most skillful cooks are able khổng lồ consistently get absolutely right. Coffe Da Lat gets it right! Eggplant, in particular, is one of those items which if made incorrectly can leave an inky & bitter aftertaste. Domain authority Lat’s rendition is tender, each slice absorbing the flavors of the sauce.

Ask James if his restaurant serves the type of food served in Vietnam và he’ll openly tell you he serves the type of food only the affluent can afford in his native country. It’s the type of food served in restaurants most citizens can’t afford khổng lồ visit. Lượt thích most Vietnamese families, the Nguyen family diet consisted mostly of vegetables, fish và bread. James fondly remembers the catfish pond và vegetable garden in his family’s back yard và to this day prefers the simplicity of a limited diet to lớn American extravagance. It’s not, however, as though a fish và vegetable diet ever became mundane. Vietnamese cooks are very inventive and became experts in the use of flavorful sauces, many of which have made their way to lớn his restaurant.

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Cafe domain authority Lat’s rendition of cube steak

1 May 2015: One person’s bizarre is another person’s delicacy. In April, 2015, Albuquerque’s NewsCastic outlet published a danh mục of “13 bizarre things on ABQ menus.” Among the baker’s dozen was the caramel catfish at cafe Da Lat. While not taking umbrage with the categorization of caramel catfish as “bizarre,” owner James Nguyen confirmed that the dish is absolutely beloved by Vietnamese people & that it’s usually paired with sour soup. What’s not khổng lồ love? This is a terrific dish. Now, if you’ve got visions of candy caramel enrobed catfish, you’re in for a surprise. After sugar has been caramelized, fish sauce is added & the concoction is stirred until the sugar is completely dissolved. Shallots, chili & ginger are then folded in. The result is a rather thin và very intriguing sauce with powerful flavors, perhaps the least obvious being sweetness. This is a caramel sauce unlike what you might imagine.

19 November 2011: American tastes which lean toward grilled meats will quickly become enamored of cà phê Da Lat’s grilled pork in which pork is marinated with the sweet spices of anise và cinnamon to create an olfactory treasure that dances on your taste buds. One of the best ways to lớn have it is with patter noodles which don’t really seem to be noodles at all. In fact, they seem khổng lồ be more lượt thích a one large rice noodle sheet in a cheesecloth pattern. The grilled pork is topped with crushed peanuts và scallions. It’s traditional to wrap the pork first in patter noodles then in lettuce leafs with cilantro, julienned carrots, daikon, ribbons of cucumber, bean sprouts & fresh mint leaves inside. These lettuce wraps are then dipped in coffe Da Lat’s pleasantly piquant fish sauce. If freshness has a flavor, it’s something like this dish.

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Crispy Catfish with Ginger Sauce

All dishes at cafe Da Lat are attractively presented with a diversity of colors & forms. Plating is almost an art form and this restaurant has a penchant for eye-pleasing arrangements. Everything on your plate is where it should be for optimum harmony and appearance. The balance of color, texture and appearance gives diners pause to lớn reflect on how great everything looks. It tastes even better!

Other Vietnamese restaurants may come and go, but cà phê Da Lat will stand the test of time because it consistently prepares & serves the very best Vietnamese cuisine in Albuquerque.

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CAFE da Lat5615 Central, N.E.Albuquerque, New Mexico(505) 266-5559Web Site  | Facebook Page

LATEST VISIT: 21 September 2021# OF VISITS: 11RATING: 25COST: $$BEST BET: Spicy Beef Soup, Catfish in Ginger Sauce, Grilled Pork with Patter Noodle, Banana Beef Stew, Rice Cake, Cube Steak, Caramel Catfish, Crispy Catfish with Ginger Dipping Sauce, Egg Rolls, Lime Beef