Whisper it. There’s far more to Danang than beaches. And we’re not talking about the fire-breathing bridge. As Vietnam’s fifth largest city makes international headlines as a highly-desirable global travel destination, it’s Danang’s food that’s getting almost as much attention as its stretches of sand.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
“Food options here are limitless, but it’s mostly very local,” Danang-based lifestyle brand consultant Allister Esguerra told us back in early October. He’s right. But, inevitably, with development comes a better choice of bars and restaurants.
Check out Blush Beach’s executive chef Brandon Winkeler’s exclusive foodie guide for a mix of street food and high end recommendations. And, if that’s not enough, here is our selection of places to eat, drink and caffeinate in Danang for our Danang Quarterly Guide for Winter 2019 too.
Where To Eat In Danang
When even mì quảng is getting a make-over, you know there’s a foodie scene in Danang. Fortunately, the scene is in safe hands with people like Masterchef Vietnam finalist Tuyet Pham and French wonder chef Olivier Corticchiato. Even Pizza 4Ps, the Vietnam-based Japanese owner pizza company that residents of Hanoi and Saigon have been passionate about for quite some time, has opened an outlet. We’re impressed.
Le Comptoir Danang
Why: French. Fine. Flavoursome. But not fussy.
We caught up with Le Comptoir’s head chef and co-founder Olivier Corticchiato for a cooking class in the restaurant’s back yard. Born in the gastronomic city of Lyon, trained at Michelin star restaurants in the south of France, Olivier has brought his fuss-free, flavour first style of French fine dining to the Vietnamese coast.
There he explained a bit about the concept and name — which translates as “the counter”. “For Le Comptoir Danang, I feel like I’m back in Lyon. In Lyon, if restaurants are small and if they are full then you go and sit at the counter,” he told us. The restaurant is often namechecked by fellow chefs as the place for a treat in Danang.
We start with fresh oysters with Spanish Sauvingon blanc by the glass, and the rest is a blur of filling, informal, and incredibly flavoursome French cuisine.
Location: 16 Che Lan Vien, Danang
Why: The beloved chain is now delivering wow, sharing happiness in Danang too.
What’s left to say? Pizza 4Ps is a very modern Vietnamese success story (with more than a hint of Japanese design and gastronomic sensibilities). From a backyard pizza party to a regional brand with a firm farm-to-table philosophy and product that still has diners breathless talking about it. And it’s all now available in Danang (as well as Nha Trang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City).
Tucked away at 8 Hoàng Văn Thụ in the shadow of another modern Vietnamese icon, the Dragon Bridge, expect the same perfect pizzas and pasta dishes smothered in cheese made in Dalat. There’s another now too over at Indochina Riverside Towers, in case they’re booked up.
Location: 8 Hoang Van Thu, Danang and Indochina Riverside Towers, 2nd Floor, 74 Bach Dang Street
Nu Do Kitchen – Masterchef Noodles
Why: Our favourite noodle dish taken to the next level.
Nu Do Kitchen feels like home. That may be because it is home to its wonderfully warm host, Tuyet Pham. Abby, her young daughter is running around contentedly in the yard which is also the restaurant. And upstairs even younger son is peering at us cautiously from the balcony. The house is simple but stylish. Its architect came up to Danang with his team from Saigon to realise the design with features like the lip of a nón lá hat.
The restaurant is in an alley a stone’s throw from Six On Six Cafe. That means you could easily spend a whole morning sipping cold brew and catching up on emails then head over to Nu Do Kitchen for lunch. The menu has detailed nutritional advice and six choices — snakehead fish noodle, chicken noodle, premium chicken noodle, beef noodle and premium beef noodle and vegetarian noodles reasonably priced for between 69,000 and 139,000VND (for the two-person premium beef bowl).
Vietnamese food can be unwelcoming for vegetarians. Imagine having to say no to mì quảng while listening to everyone else rave about its deliciously thick noodles and umami-tasting soup. Nu Do Kitchen serve a vegetarian version just as good. Tuyet Pham plops the bowl on the table and starts explaining her inspirational philosophy about how children should eat (that might become a book next year). We’ll be back many times before then.
Location: 11/1 Luu Quang Thuan
Where To Drink In Danang
It really depends on you. Danang has bumping beach clubs like Apocalypse. Crazy nights at Japanese-themed, or Trapanese-themed, Kyoto Lounge. And the party never stops at places like Golden Pine Pub. However, we’ve opted for a more refined selection of cocktail bars here.
The Craftsman Cocktail Bar
Why: Impeccable service and craft cocktails.
If bigger cities have the edge for creative cocktails, Danang is definitely a step ahead for friendly service. Especially at The Craftsman. It’s Friday. And the place is packed. But the staff quickly find us a seat in the courtyard out front. There’s live music. But most people are here for the cocktails or craft beer – tonight they’re holding a Heart Of Darkness sponsored event.
The menu is simple. And proudly local. The first cocktail on the menu features Sampan rum – a rum agricole made with sugar cane harvested close to its distillery just outside Hoi An. The team are passionate too. Owner Ho Anh Tuan enthusiastically leaps into an explanation about how switching the gin to Sampan rum in their Sampan Sling gives the cocktail warm sugar cane notes. The punchy Penicillin is great too – perfect for whisky cocktail lovers. “We make our craft cocktails with lots of local and homemade ingredients,” Ho Anh Tuan explains, “and that’s why I called the bar The Craftsman”.
Location: 48 Phan Tu, Danang
Why: Japanese cocktails with a creative twist.
You never know what to expect from a bar with a frosted glass door. But inside, Bar LIBRE is a Japanese-style cocktail lover’s dream. Hushed jazz pipes through the sound system. The bartenders are formally dressed in waistcoats and ties. And the cocktails are both on-point and innovative.
Bartender Vo Dien Tien plucks a star apple from the fruit basket on the bar. “These are in season right now,” he tells us adding the fruit to a mix that includes almond-flavoured amaretto. Then he pours in liquid nitrogen. The finished cocktail is like a delicious ice cream. A perfect after dinner drink.
Location: 25 Quang Trung, Danang
Why: Bespoke cocktails in a very modern downtown speakeasy.
Tê Bar is a very modern kind of speakeasy. Sure, there’s a confusingly concealed entrance (with lots of steps and curtains). But past the teens and Korean-tourists thronging the branch of Cong Cafe downstairs posing for selfies or glued to their smartphone screens Tê Bar hums to a house and techno soundtrack. And the chatter of happily inebriated guests. Dapper bartenders in leather aprons are shaking up bespoke cocktails. And the place is still full despite it being last orders at the bar.
The bartender refuses to let us order from their long list of specials. “Just tell me what you like,” he insists. We’re glad we did. He makes us a fashionably low-ABV lemon-infused vodka-based cocktail and a smokey version of an Old Fashioned that has quite a kick to it.
Location: 3rd Floor, 39-41 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Danang
Where To Get Great Coffee (And More) In Danang
Six On Six
Why: Cold brew, hot breakfasts and brunches.
Cold brew is everywhere. And that includes Danang. The flavour-filled slow-dripped cup of coffee is available at Six On Six, as well as lots of tasty breakfast and brunch plates – think egg and avocado toast, bubbling bowls of shakshouka and breakfast burritos. The decor is warm and homely too. There’s pastel coloured sofas and patterned-tile floors. “It should feel modern, and there’s the beautiful koi pond in the garden and an eclectic assortment of colourful tables and chairs,” new owner Giang, better known as Maggie explains. “Also known as lots of used furniture,” she laughs modestly about the welcoming interior.
But back to the coffee. Six On Six serve and sell their own brand of home-roasted arabica. “We’re pretty proud of our coffee,” Maggie says, “and we serve it with lots of care”. The area is cool too. It’s a bright breezy day and the locale reminds us of Saigon’s Thao Dien or Hanoi’s Tay Ho (on a sunny day).
Location: 14/11 Luu Quang Thuan, Danang
43 Factory Coffee Roaster
Why: The original Danang coffee connoisseurs.
43 Factory gets a mention here for elevating the Danang coffee scene. Naturally, for a factory, the industrial aesthetic is strong in this lofty warehouse-like space. And the cafe co-founder Lê Đắc Thành’s mission is as high as the 43 Factory Coffee Roaster ceiling — to gently move Danang’s coffee lovers from phin dripped robusta to fine Vietnamese arabica. It seems to be working.
So far 43 Factory Coffee Roaster is making the same impression on local palettes as [A] Speciality Coffee and The Workshop did for Saigon. Like The Workshop there’s the same transparent set up. A 360 degree coffee bar in the centre. Lots of coffee brewing gizmos and gadgets on shelves on the walls. Lots of delicious desserts. And there’s a menu that still pleases cà phê sữa đá-loving locals as much as cold brew and espresso addicts.
Location: 422 Ngo Thi Si, Danang