Khanh Nguyen is the owner of DaLat, the new Vietnamese inspired restaurant located in the former RedFork location on Fitzhugh just east of I75 in Dallas. The location has met with a few tragic tales, including one we mention today about Herrera’s shuttering next door after just a few months of operation. But this news doesn’t frighten Nguyen who feels it is a strong and transitioning neighborhood.
Nguyen is a corporate securities attorney by training who went into the software business with his brother then sold the company and found himself sitting on the sidelines developing another software company for the better part of the last two years. While at home Nguyen would often cook for his children and at some point he noticed he enjoyed cooking more than the thought of running another software business.
This is how the idea for DaLat came into play. Nguyen wanted to bring his idea of Vietnamese cooking public and started looking for real estate.
“I just felt this location was right for my concept. Everyone thinks that Fitzhugh is in a transitional period and I think it will soon be more like Henderson. It just makes sense. During this time only certain types of restaurants will make it here. I think pho, especially late night pho, geographically makes sense,” said Nguyen.
From the looks of the crowds late at night that statement seems to ring true. On Saturday’s from 10pm to 2am Nguyen has been getting over 100 covers, and that is huge traffic for the location and having spent zero dollars on advertising or a sign for that matter. Starting Thursday, May 31, 2012 Nguyen’s hours will be 11am to 2am daily except on Friday and Saturday where he will stay open until 3am.
The food is solid, if not imaginative. Nguyen is serving some very traditional Vietnamese items including his pho, which he takes extreme pride in and shoots for the most authentic flavors. There are a few other items that are something you might enjoy late night at home if you were Vietnamese, Xoi Lap Xuong, which is a Chinese sausage and sticky rice. Both are stir fried until crisped.
Nguyen is also having fun with the menu and offers a unique send up to chef Kent Rathbun’s lobster shooter in DaLat’s Shooters, which are Vietnamese meatballs that are seared and sunk into a spicy broth of sake, coconut and cream. Fair warning, the shooters are addictive and meant to be slurped up with ease.
Nguyen also serves a very non-traditional Banh Mi sandwich with some oddball fillings such as the Italian which is a superb sandwich and filled with salami and peppered turkey on a French Banh Mi roll served with all the Banh Mi vegetation and sauces. You can get his send up to a tuna sandwich made in the same fashion.
The Banh Mi was served with a side of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. I had never had Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and asked what the hell that was all about. Nguyen laughed and said you never knew what side you might get. It all depended on what inspired him at the market. One day it might be shrimp chips he finds at an Asian market, another day Cheetos he picks up across the street at the Mexican grocery. It’s how the man rolls.
If you are in the area and in need of some really good pho, go check out DaLat. You will not be disappointed.