Exactly the same in Vietnam, we heard about the fancy places owned by some "diva" or "supermodel", or another spots - more traditional - by famous designer or novelist. I wonder - is it another way for them to make money or just to agree with what they said: "I open this place to hang out with my friends, I don't need to go out...". Hmm, it would be true or may be not!
I'm talking about "Đo Đo" eatery created by a popular novelist - Nguyễn Nhật Ánh, with his wife. To be honest I know very little about this writer, he seems well-known among the youth, some of his works has been adopted for TV series. It sounds great, but is it great his place? I got different comments: "it's so so", "mostly for those who love central flavours" (this place specialised in dishes from Central Vietnam), "the place is so tiny, not comfortable", "the dish is a bit salty"... I won't make any comments until I visited the place with friends few days ago.
We came here for late dinner. Not so crowded, actually my friends came first, I was a bit late and didn't made any order. Ok, here was what my friends ordered:
Bánh đập...ok how can I translate it into English? Slap cake? This name would come from the sound when we "slap" the rolled cake over the crispy rice cracker. Anyway it's just a name, but what I want to say here - the dip sauce for this traditional cake. My mother was born in Quảng Ngãi, I was born here in Sàigòn, I have a cousin who used to bring this bánh đập to us, and as far as I remember the dip sauce is a kind of special strong fermented fish sauce, but at Đo Đo as it's served with grilled pork so the dip sauce is just a simple salty fish sauce. Hard to say it's good or not, one more thing: the rolled cake over the rice crispy cracker is too oily, I can feel even the oil's smell. That's I don't like.
a steamed mackerel...this one used to be my favourite if the fish is super fresh.
I didn't have a chance to taste other specialities from Quảng areas (Central Vietnam) at Đo Đo. I'd love to come back here another time, I wouldn't say the dishes I tried that evening were very good, but it could be fair enough for those who love to experience the taste from my mother's homeland or I would refer to one of the comments on this place that I found nice: "the chef at Đo Đo probably wants to keep the authentic typically salty taste for Central people...".
Quán Đo Đo: 10/14 Luong Huu Khanh - a small street bridged Nguyen Thi Minh Khai (not far from Tous Les Jours in Nguyen Thi Minh Khai) and Bui Thi Xuan, dist.1, HCMC