my friends and i were here for lunch yesterday and i had a chance to try again some dishes that are not common to most vietnamese restaurant. this restaurant specializes in northern vietnamese dishes and the one their most known for is "cha ca thanh long". cubes of catfish lightly seasoned with tumeric is grilled and served pipping hot on an iron sizzling plater with ton of scallions and fresh dill sprigs. the dish is accompanied by rice noodles, lettuce, mint, a fuzzy purple leaf that tastes like lemon grass (anybody knows the name of this leaf?) , cillantro, rice cracker, roasted peanuts, chopped onion, and a sauce made from anchovy paste. to eat, you put everything into a bowl, pour the sauce on, mix, and you're ready to go. since i first had this dish here a decade ago, the quality has gone down somewhat but this is still the only vietnamese restaurant i know of that serves a decent version of this dish.
the other dishes that we had were "bun cha" (grilled pork slices in a light brown sauce), "banh xeo" (vietnamese crepe), "cha tom" (shredded yam and shrimp patty), and "com ga tay cam" (rice cooked with chicken, various type of mushrooms, and chicken stock in a clay pot). except for the "com ga tay cam", all the other dishes were served with leafy lettuces, mints, the fuzzy purple leaf, cillantro, and a light fish sauce.
"bun cha" and "banh xeo" were my two favorites from this meal. the pork slices in the "bun cha" had a good char flavor and the sauce was seasoned just right. the "banh xeo" was crunchy and filled with an abundant of shrimp, pork, beef, and bean sprout.