First Taste: Da Nang in Clawson

Metromix Detroit

Ask metro Detroiters to describe Vietnamese food and you may get a shrug of the shoulder. It’s hard to place the blame - Vietnamese restaurants aren’t very prevalent in the metro area and most are accustomed to dining amongst the other Asian influences. Clawson’s Đà Nẵng restaurant is attempting to change that.

Open since March 6, 2009 and located at the corner of 14 Mile and Main Street (Livernois), Đà Nẵng is named after one of the biggest port cities in Vietnam. Owners Kim Dao Waldis and her sister Lan Dao have been busy educating customers on the balance and fresh flavors that Vietnamese food has to offer.

It’s certainly a unique style of cuisine boasting delicateness, subtlety and freshness while still finding influence from Chinese and French palettes. You won’t find an abundance of fried foods or the typical soy, or sweet and sour sauces. What you will experience is food that is both satisfying and delicious (without being heavy and tiring) in a pleasant and tranquil atmosphere.

Especially popular in Vietnamese fare, the Phở soup varieties are fantastic pick-me-uppers complete with a variety of ingredients and flavors. Try the Phở Tái, a thick rice noodle soup topped with thinly sliced top round beef served with fresh vegetables. Or the Phở Tái Nạm, a similar soup with beef flanks. The Phở Tái Bò Viên soup combines the round beef with house-made beef meatballs.

For vegetarians, the Phở Chay is a great choice mixing a thick rice noodle vegetarian soup with tofu and fresh vegetables.

New batches of the soup are made daily and are prepared with fresh basil, bean sprouts, fresh lime juice. They also come with a choice of additional sauces.

Try a grilled steak salad or enjoy a somewhat traditional sweet and sour chicken (traditional except that the sauce on this entrée is extremely light and full of flavors). Other staples include the Gỏi Cuốn (a fresh spring roll of shrimp, steamed pork, vermicelli and fresh vegetables rolled in rice paper served with house hoisin sauce and topped with peanuts), a variety of satays (chicken, pork, beef or shrimp) and a variety of noodle and rice dishes.

Quality is paramount at Đà Nẵng with particular emphasis being placed on the proper refining of the fish sauce exhibiting a clear appearance (versus a cloudy, unrefined sauce, causing its flavor to improperly linger). Equally important is the lack of the sodium salt MSG (Monosodium glutamate) in their dishes thus helping to preserve the foods freshness.

Don’t let the fact that Vietnamese kitchens are not the typical Asian dining destinations (at least in the metro area) fool you – one trip to Đà Nẵng and you’re bound to make it a regular stop to satisfy that need for freshness and hunger.


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