We all gravitate towards certain restaurants out of either desire or convenience, and one of life’s greatest pleasures is stumbling upon a restaurant, but returning because of a burning desire. Enter – Dalat Oriental Restaurant. Stationed within walking distance from NCSU and a ten-minute drive from downtown, Dalat is headquartered in a secretive hole-in-the-wall location of a dreary strip mall, but it serves food with a secret-service level of talent, and their long reign of “Best in the Triangle” is clear from their large sticker collection.
They call it an “oriental restaurant” because you order everything from Americanized Chinese and Japanese dishes and stir fries to extremely authentic Thai and Vietnamese delicacies. I wish that I could say that I have tried them all and maybe one day I will, but for now, I am addicted to their Pho, Bahn Mi, and Pad Thai. Less adventurous friends have tried some other dishes, and no one has ever been disappointed.
I think they have some of the best Pho in the Raleigh area. Pho Far East would be their closest competition, however, if you enjoy getting nutty over some Pad Thai, I have not had better. And when I say better, I mean that it changed the way that I think of Pad Thai. Dalat has found a great balance of their Pad Thai’s heavy sauce, acid, and crunchables to make a truly refined and well-rounded dish.
Today, I want to talk about their Bahn Mi in particular. They never actually refer to it as “Bahn Mi” but rather as “Vietnamese Sandwiches.” I think this is because they don’t include the pate typically found on Bahn Mi sandwiches, but I’m not sure. Bahn Mi literally translates as “bread” and “meat,” but the traditional sandwich is also served with some pickled veggies and typically some cilantro as well. If you decide to try this sandwich, I always go for the grilled pork and never look back. Yeah, it’s a massive undertaking, but you will be rewarded with a long and savory nap if you play your cards right.
Run, don’t walk, to Dalat!