Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reminiscing Huế at Du Viet, Damansara Uptown

We stumbled into Du Viet after rounding the Uptown square for a bit, uninspired by the other choices in the area on a quiet Saturday evening.

Upon entering, there was not a single table occupied. Uh-oh, we thought and exchanged meaningful piercing stares, willing the other to take remedial action. But we didn't dare retreat.
Once we got down to the business of ordering however, we decided to be charmed by our own memories of pristine white Ao-dais and wonderful meals in Vietnam some years ago. No Ao-dai'd waitresses in sight here though, so the meal would have to suffice.

We start with the prawn Summer Rolls (Nem Saigon). The rolls were bursting with fresh ingredients, and even the rice paper wrap was up to par. The sauce was a little thin though.


I'd gotten giddily excited when I saw the Royal Pancake (Banh Xeo) in the menu, having just recalled one particular sumptuous meal we'd had in Hue, after being soaked to the bone from the torrential rain at the famed Citadel. The pancake as part of that meal remains one of my fondest Vietnamnese memories. Du Viet's version, even with the absence of the pork traditionally used for this dish, passed the test just nicely, resurrecting the long-shelved promise of returning to that city.

The Vietnamnese Noodle Salad (Vegetarian) was so-so, great for filling up on fresh vegetables and the very generous use of fried beancurd! Apparently, the Vietnamnese makes vegetarianism an art form, but there's nothing arty about this.

The Vietnamnese Stir Fried Seafood Noodles was also a let-down, its gravy a sickly sweet concoction that really shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a noodle dish. They used plenty of seafood but the fish slices had definitely just been put through a major defrosting chamber!

Hard to go wrong with the Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Chop with Rice. Any self-respecting Vietnamnese outlet would have this down pat at the very least, together with the phos. The chicken thigh was beautifully done, fragrant and tender.

I had some Ginger Lemon Tea. Hot and comforting, after a grizzly day out in the sun on the Klang Valley real estate trail.

Some hits and some misses... I tend to find Vietnamnese outlets put a great deal more effort into their starters than their mains so I should stick to ordering just those next time. The restaurant quietly filled with more patrons during the course of our meal but still, it was barely a quarter full when we left at about 930PM. Which begs the question, at what point does a restaurant tip over from merely surviving to struggling?

24 comments:

boo_licious said...

Didn't know they served the pancake here too as I thought only sao Nam did that. Well, I guess when restaurants are constantly empty weekdays and weeknites, you know they won't survive long.

Bangsar-bAbE said...

I tried this place once, and wasn't impressed. And it was empty on a weekday after work. Like you, rif and I were too "paiseh" to retreat! =P

Sean said...

i've always eyed this outlet whenever i'm in the area, but never dared to try. it somehow just looked like it would be disappointing. but it's a vicious circle, isn't it? if a place is unpopular, then it might be forced to start cutting back on quality to save costs. then word of mouth gets toxic, and the place becomes even more unpopular, and they cut back some more. but du viet looks like it deserves a chance. it's always sad when a decent restaurant doesn't survive, especially those that were labours of love to begin with...

Nic (KHKL) said...

yes, i can so relate to that uh-oh experience. but of course, everyone deserves at least one chance. in fact, it might turn into something really awesome. glad u took a chance. :D

to me, merely surviving is just the same as struggling. a celebrated eatery (regardless of its food) is judged based on the consistantly large turnout and i guess (fortunately and unfortunately), decides the survival of its culinary art (or the lack of it). so, it's either a full house or a dead end. luck plays a part too, sometimes. or so, i believe..hehehehe..

thenomadGourmand said...

i think the Royal Pancake looks good. Prices are ok?
this outlet been ard for 2 yrs; maybe?

CUMI & CIKI said...

so cute.. Ao-dai'd.. is that even a word?! :P

babe_kl said...

i wonder if there was a change in management? they used to operate for years at Damansara Jaya (Atria), then opened a branch in Bangsar Village where Daily Grindz is now. Then suddenly both closed and now they reopened in Uptown. The phos used to be good when we ate at D.Jaya.

mimid3vils said...

The spring roll look healthy with all those veggie filling~~

Raynebow said...

Hmmm... the Summer Rolls looked good - i always like Vietnamese spring rolls!

aka Pureglutton

Steven Goh said...

never tried this viet restaurant there before. I only manage to try out Charms cafe at uptown only. Next time need to try that out.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

its the irony, as much as i like restaurants to be quiet..they usually dont last long if it stays that way..

J2Kfm said...

my fren actually recommended this place, back then.

funny it's not THAT popular now, aint it?

550ml jar of faith said...

Boo, I've yet to try Sao Nam. If they serve pancakes, I am not going to put off much longer. Pancakes FTW!!

Bangsar Babe, actually even if we had turned on our heels and gotten out of there, what's the worst that could happen? They glare at us for a few seconds, haha! In this case, I'm actually glad we stuck around.

Sean, too true. If they slip up on first impressions, they're bound for the irreversible downspiral. I do think they have a fighting chance, just need to polish up the rough edges up a bit.

Nic, actually I don't mind as much quiet restaurants - at least you have a better chance of good service! So if the food's inconsequential (and it rarely is, sadly), I'd go for the quieter joints.

Nomad Gourmand, pricing reasonable. Total meal about RM88 for 3 pax. The pancake is one mean starter, but I'm itching to try Sao Nam's one now, after Boo's comment.

Ciki, it is now!! :-D BTW, NOT happy that I wasn't even anywhere near the running for the brolly!! I shall try harder next time, wait for the multiple entries!!

Babe KL, not sure if there was a switch up but I remember this being in BV and then abruptly disappearing overnight. Have to go back for the pho proper, can't fairly judge a Vietnamnese outlet without trying that!

550ml jar of faith said...

Mimid3vils, Raynebow, they were very yummy! Love it when they make eating healthy so easy!

Steven, Charms?? Where's that? Got review in your blog or not?

Joe, tis a hard life as a restauranteur after all!! You're never going to score As for your P&L if you want to keep traffic & noise levels down.

J2Kfm, from the looks of Sat night, definitely not high on the popularity charts. Although I suspect they draw larger lunch crowds from the office buildings nearby.

sakaigirl said...

wow, the pancake is really something that i never seen before! got tau ge somemore..

Christy said...

Wow, if the food is good, then maybe it's not that that the place is empty! It must be the economic situation eh...hehe:p

Tummythoz said...

Err Sao Nam at Tengkat Tongshin? Disappeared d. =,(

FoOd PaRaDiSe said...

hmm.... would like to try the pancake....

Sugar Bean said...

I haven't seen Royal Pancake in Vietnamese cuisine before, perhaps I'm not familiar with Vietnamese food. But it looks nice, like pizza. Would love to try it out.

worldwindows said...

The Bon Bo Hue noodles may be best noodles I had had in Vietnam. Peculiar to Hue Province it is spicy. Most Vietnamese restaurants in KL has short life-cycles. The spring roll looks good.

wmw said...

Yes, sadly I can only find good Vietnamese food out of Malaysia :o(

Life for Beginners said...

Royal Pancake? Ooh can't wait to dine on this and feel like a Vietnamese royal! ;)

Visu said...

hi after giovanni,

i came across to your review about du viet when i was looking for some info about this restaurant...

do you know there's an online food and restaurant platform known as BestFoodJunction?

feel free to write some reviews there!

Visu said...

Hai there, I really like your
review, on behave of bestfoodjunction.com, we have the above review posted
on http://my.bestfoodjunction.com/du-viet-restaurant-cafe-damansara-utama/ let me know what do you think~

email: bfjteam@bestfoodjunction.com