Long Dế: something different on the Eastside
If you live on the East side, you will soon find out it’s a bit starved for places to eat. Sure, you have the beach road lined with seafood restaurants, and there’s the odd noodle or rice place on the sidewalk, but not much that stands out. Mr Long is out to change that. He recently opened a quan nhau called Long De. Now before you get excited about a new goat place on the East side, be aware that this is not dê (no tone), meaning ‘goat’; this is dế (going up) which means ‘crickets’. And they’re fantastic.
Mr Long serves up crickets almost any way you can imagine: battered, grilled or fried in butter, but my favorite has to be dế rang muối. First, big chunks of sea salt are sauteed in a pan till they’re dry as a bone. Then, the crickets are added to the mix, along with a bit of lemon grass. When it’s done, you dip the little hoppers in a mayo-chili sauce mix and then gently back in the salt to pick up a grain or two. Light and crunchy, these guys make the perfect beer snack. Speaking of beer, you can get yourself any variety of Larue for under 10,000 VND.
Feeling brave? For the true daredevil, Long De also serves scorpion. They’re quite big, so you order by the critter, not by the plate-full. The chef is kind enough to take the poison out of the stinger, but not so kind as to remove the innards, so be ready for a mouthful when you crunch down.
If you don’t want to fill up on bugs, don’t worry; the menu offers plenty of choice without reading like an encyclopedia of every Vietnamese food imaginable. Grilled fish, clams and prawns are all excellent and reasonably priced. My favorite non-grub is the fish sauce fried squid, mực chiên nước mắm. Get it with the bigger squid, as the thick calamari rings keep their chewiness better with the tangy sauce, while the smaller squid comes with the ink sac still inside.
To top it off, you can enjoy all this on Long De’s al-fresco patio, or retreat under the generous awning if it starts to rain. With a unique twist on the seafood quan nhau, great ambiance and a friendly owner like Long, it’s hard not to keep coming back here.
Where: Le Quang Dao, off 120 Nguyen van Thoai, can’t miss it
When: Open afternoon till 10 or 11 pm
Price for crickets and squid, plus table snacks & a few beers: about 200,000 VND