First published January 2015 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle
This post was last updated 8 years ago. Please check the comments section for possible updates, or read more on my Updates & Accuracy page.
As with other major Vietnamese cities, Dalat is experiencing a new wave of hip, innovative, informal places to eat. Run by young Vietnamese entrepreneurs with a passion for good food and inventive décor, these exciting new restaurants are transforming Vietnam’s urban dining scene. Chu Quán, a smoky open-sided barbecue-grill restaurant, not far from Dalat city centre, opened in the summer of 2014 and has been teeming with locals and domestic tourists ever since.
Owned by Long and Dieu, a couple in their mid-twenties, the restaurant’s signature dish is bò sặc: spicy marinated local beef, grilled at the table on a larva-hot, circular slab of volcanic stone. Like most good chefs, Long and Dieu draw upon their own national cuisine, while borrowing techniques and flavours from their favourite regional cuisines, in order to create something new, fresh and exciting. Bò sặc is Mr Long’s spin on traditional Korean barbecue, which he was introduced to while working in a Korean restaurant. Although I was warned about the heat of this dish – bò sặc means ‘choking beef’, so called because the chilli-scented smoke from the barbecue makes you cough – I found it to be surprisingly mild. But, add just a drop of their homemade green chilli sauce, and it’ll bring red-hot tears to your eyes.
Other delicious marinated meats, seafood and vegetables get the volcanic rock treatment: the menu is chalked up on a big blackboard and changes regularly. Another interesting creation at Chu Quán is their take on đậu hủ chiên giòn: crispy fried tofu. Scallop-shaped silky tofu is fried in a light breadcrumb batter and topped with chà bông (cotton-like pork floss), a slice of Chinese-style preserved ‘century egg’, and a large red chilli. A great combination of texture and colour, these tofu parcels melt in the mouth after an initial crunch, like a chocolate caramel.
Dalat is a highlands city, famous for its fresh vegetables. Long is a native of Dalat and he makes good use of the region’s abundant produce. Try the fried chives with garlic for a crunchy, green accompaniment to all the animal protein.
Chu Quán is the kind of place that catches your attention as you pass by. Attracting Vietnamese of all ages, a warm buzz emanates from Chu Quán on the cold Dalat nights. Long and Dieu are a constant presence in the restaurant: tasting sauces and marinades, and chatting to customers. Long was inspired to open a grill restaurant after visiting one of Dalat’s most famous barbecue joints, and realizing that he could do better. His confidence is confirmed by a tattoo on his left arm:
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Address: 3 Phạm Ngũ Lão Street, Dalat
Tel: 091 201 6892
Price: 35,000-150,000vnđ ($1.50-$7) per dish
I tried this place years ago. It was amazing! I couldn’t find it last time.. is it still open?
I’m not sure – last I heard it had changed location, but that was a few years ago at least. Try asking locals when you are next in Dalat.
Thank you for all the useful tips, we are heading to Dalat in 2 weeks and looking forward to this delicious BBQ!
I hope you enjoy it – I was back there a couple weeks ago and it was still delicious 🙂
I’m doing the ‘old colonial’ trick and heading for Dalat for a week of cooler climate. I’ll definitely try this place.
Although you probably take Stavros with you on your Dalat trips, do you happen to know anywhere reliable to hire a non-automatic bike?
You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a semi-automatic bike for rent in Dalat – either through your guesthouse/hotel or around Truong Cong Dinh Street around the Hangout and other backpacker-oriented places.
Enjoyed the cooler climes!
Thanks for a great blog — makes us reminisce about our all too short 6 weeks in Vietnam. Can’t wait to be back – including to Dalat!
I hope you’ll have a chance to come back for a visit soon. And to try the tasty food in Dalat 🙂
Had coffee at The Muse today. 64 Phan Dinh Phung. Facebook.com/themusecoffee
Really good Cafe sua.
Thanks, I’ll try it sometime.