The menu items are something of a surprise in Dalat. There are no pho and bahn mi, and the most familiar Vietnamese fares are spring rolls and Vietnamese coffee. But you know this is a Vietnamese restaurant, because of the name, the photographs on the wall, and the Oriental music playing in the background.
The offbeat choice of dishes is mainly the point, though. Whereas pho and bahn mi are slowly and surely making their way into the compasses of Metro Manila – eh – foodies, other Vietnamese dishes have yet to be represented. Which is what this restaurant in an obscure part of Makati sets to accomplish. Owned by the same people as Bon Bahnmi (which in itself is a pioneer in introducing the Vietnamese sandwich to Metro Manila residents when all we know of Vietnamese food was pho), Dalat aims to open up a new whole page of Vietnamese recipes, particularly on cơm tấm, a dish originating in Saigon composed of broken rice grains.
On a fine Saturday morning, I and a friend decide to visit the place, which is fairly new, having just started operations last month. There’s a calming vibe, perhaps because it’s a weekend morning.
We start with Vietnamese coffee, which is served in some thingamajig. We’re supposed to wait for the coffee to finish dripping from the top container and then put the coffee into the glass filled with ice. The coffee isn’t as sweet as many Filipinos are accustomed to, which is a good thing.
We then order cơm tấm with its usual companion – grilled pork chop.
The highlight of this meal – and the star of the menu – is the Vietnamese Beef Steak. The dish consists of beef slices, a thick slice of what I’m guessing is Spam, a sunny side-up, and some fries, served with cream cheese and a hulking piece of baguette.
Dalat’s menu is a really short one, limited mostly to a few variants of the broken rice dishes. But the two dishes we tried are really good, and this suggests we should pay a return visit soon with another friend who just got back from her volunteering stint in Hanoi.
Dalat Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine
7467 Bagtikan Street, San Antonio, Makati City