Second Helpings: Greg Cox revisits some old favorites
Review originally published 2/27/2015
By Greg Cox
You might say Dalat and I go way back. Even before I began reviewing restaurants 20 years ago, I was a regular customer. Whenever the urge for Vietnamese food hit, I’d head to Dalat for a fix of shrimp- and pork-filled summer rolls (goi cuon), followed by vermicelli with Vietnamese spring rolls and barbecued pork.
Naturally, Dalat was one of the first restaurants I reviewed (and, not surprisingly, I really liked the place). Reliable execution and reasonable prices have kept the restaurant on my short list of go-to places when I’m dining “off duty” (translation: on my own dime). Over the years, the menu has expanded to include pho, banh mi and other Vietnamese classics. Fish in caramel sauce, served furiously boiling in an earthenware baking dish, became another favorite of mine.
A few years ago, I began to notice that the place was looking decidedly timeworn. The food was still as good as ever, mind you, and the service remained fast and friendly (full disclosure: owner Tao Le knows who I am). But the dining room’s increasingly dowdy look caused me to fear that my old friend Dalat was beginning to let herself go.
I was delighted, then, when I stopped in a few weeks ago and discovered that Dalat had gotten a makeover with highlights including lots of potted tropical plants, bamboo poles, and a fetching display of Vietnamese stringed instruments on one wall. It put me in such a festive mood I splurged on red snapper in a red coconut curry – a thoroughly rewarding dish, proving that even an old friend can surprise you from time to time.
2109-110 Avent Ferry Road, Raleigh
Last review: 1996 (*** out of 4); New rating: *** 1/2 out of 5