The “Hungry” hubby and I started eating out a lot lately ever since the kitchen had been devoted almost exclusively to food involving eggs, sugar and butter. The duck legs earmarked for confit, the boneless short ribs for beef bourguignon and the lamb shanks for the hubby’s beloved osso buco – they all remain neglected and in deep freeze.
But savory food does remain at the forefront of my mind. I thought it would be fun to start a weekly post about the local food scene outside of my sweet kitchen for a change. Not really about the restaurant’s food itself but more about how food influences my choices in life. Sounds deep? Far from it. Take for example my trip to Dalat yesterday.
I was all set to go to Chick-Fil-A since I had the afternoon off from working late last week and had a ton of errands to run. Mind you, it was a Monday, so why did the errands not get done over the weekend? Because the weekends are never long enough.
Before I left work, I had to go visit Jaden’s blog Steamy Kitchen and staring at me was this bowl of Pho. Game over – "eating chikin" suddenly faded from memory so I quickly reassessed my route for the day. I knew I did not want to detour to the Horsepen area to go to Pho So 1 (absolute best pho), but Dalat does make a mean bowl of Pho too.
The place was humming at 12:30 pm. They always look understaffed but they have someone whom I shall call Head-Waiter who efficiently moves things along. He approached me and said that they are preparing a table for me. Good, because I feared my long coat was going to catch on fire with the space-heater running red hot behind me. I was also afraid to move because there was a long line forming right out the door. Head-Waiter came back and got the two ladies that were behind me.
Did I, in my long coat, suddenly become invisible? Maybe efficient is not the word to describe him. Multi-tasking, after all, can backfire sometimes.
He probably felt my eyes shooting daggers at him because he looked back and in a shocked, sheepish expression appeared to suddenly remember me and signaled me to come to the other table.
Anyway, what I like about Dalat are their very reasonable prices for the amount of food they give you. I guess when their prices are low they have more volume in customers to turn out a profit – at least that is what I hope.
Their service can be described as whirlwind with some wait time. Let me explain.
When they are really busy, you wait for a while for someone to take your order. In that time period I saw several aromatic barbecue dishes over broken rice parading endlessly and my food choice changed again for a second time that day. So I guess the power of the nose trumps the eyes because now I think I want barbecued pork over broken rice instead of Pho.
After waiting an eternity (it felt that way because i was starving by now) praying for the waiter to appear to end the turmoil of barbecued pork vs. Pho, he did show up at my table and briskly asked me for my order in a rat-a-tat way.
Not too long after he left, my fresh spring roll arrived but not my soda. And then another lull when finally my barbecue pork arrived but there was still no sign of my drink. So before the waiter could walk away, I reminded him that I did order a regular coke. No problem, it arrived before I was able to take a second bite out of my dish.
So after satisfying the grumblings of my belly with delicious Vietnamese food, I knew it would be another wait to ask for the check so I just stood up and went to the cashier where they usually have your check anyway. Or not. The same guy that sat me, Head-Waiter, asked me what I had for lunch and with a calculator totaled my bill and said: “$10.79” (or something to that effect) and then left to seat other customers.
So when the cashier turned to me I pointed to Head-Waiter and said: “ He said $10.79.” Would he believe me?
He looked down at the calculator and agreed: “Yes, $10.79.” so I guess the calculator doubles as a transient check too.
I had a grin on my face as I left Dalat. First I thought the whole episode was funny but I keep on forgetting how informal most Asian restaurants are. I really like Head-Waiter despite his shortcomings. He is always smiling no matter how busy he gets.
I wonder what time they open on the weekends, maybe I can get that bowl of Pho with one of my girlfriends one morning as our husbands normally can’t imagine having that for breakfast anyway.
***NEWSFLASH*** Dale Reitzer will be guest chef at Six Burner on Sunday, February 24, 2008 . Includes a 4-course menu, $45.00 (tax and gratuity excluded). Call Six Burner 804.353.4060 to make reservations.