Nha Trang not only has beautiful beaches and tasty seafood, but it’s also a great place for bò nướng (grilled beef).

For Hanoian Tran Nha, who visits Nha Trang twice a year, the top dish in the city in Khanh Hoa Province is at Lạc Cảnh Restaurant which has existed for nearly half a century.

The dish is so tasty and unique that many diners often ask for the secret recipe.

Kicker: Dinners should try unique grilled beef at Lạc Cảnh Restaurant in Nha Trang. Photo thodianhatrang.vn

The restaurant owner, who declined to be named, said the beef is soaked with a special esoteric spice that has never been revealed.

Nha said a local friend told him that many chefs in the city has tried to discover this secret spice but all had failed.

“All the spices sold in the market are advertised by saying that housewives will successfully cook the dish at home the same way it’s cooked at Lạc Cảnh Restaurant but they also failed.”

“Each time I arrive in Nha Trang I always come to Lạc Cảnh to enjoy the dish,” he said, noting that despite the hot weather last week the restaurant was packed.

Nha said when a waiter brought a plate of 20 spice-soaked beef pieces and a wooden charcoal furnace to his table, he was ready to do some cooking.

“Different from others, this dish is more enjoyable when the diner serves it by him/herself to fully experience the fragrant flavours of the beef and the specific spice,” Nha said, adding that it goes great with pieces of salad, tomato, cucumber and thin cut onions. The dipping sauce is a mix of salt, chilli and lemon juice.

Nha said the waiter told him to eat the grilled beef with bread by dipping the bread in the beef sauce and then grilling it.

He said he had become an addict of the dish since then.

Fortunately, Pham Bich Hanh, owner of Ngon Garden Restaurant in Hanoi, has brought the dish to the capital so Nha and others can enjoy it.

You should also sample an aromatic taste of grilled beef with bread at Ngon Garden in Hanoi to classify the different. Photo courtesy of Ngon Garden Restaurant.

Nha Trang grilled beef is a popular choice for restaurant dinners because of its soft yet sweet aromatic flavour, said teacher Hoang Thi That in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung District.

“When eating the dish I enjoy these flavours from each mouthful of the beef,” she said.

“We have to order quality organic beef shoulder meat from Nha Trang. It is cut into 3cm by 3cm cubes and marinated with a special sauce made by the restaurant for 20 hours before it is cooked in a charcoal oven,” explained head chef Le Duc Hai

“Diners should experience the dish right after grilling and they will enjoy it with fresh salad and crunchy bread,” Hai said, noting that apart from locals, many foreign delegations such as delegates of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who visited Ngon Garden Restaurant last February, enjoyed the dish.

Bo nuong cuon la lot 

Apart from grilled beef, bò nướng cuốn lá lốt (grilled beef wrapped in betel leaves) is also a beloved dis

Kicker: Traditional grilled beef wrapped up in betel leaves, a must-try too. Photo cachlambanhtrangtronchoconang.blogsport.com

The ingredients include beef, bacon, dried onion, garlic, citronella, five-spice powder and betel leaves.

These ingredients should be minced and marinated for 15 minutes before being wrapped in each lá lốt leaf then grilled over a charcoal oven until the fragrance flies out.

The dish is much more enjoyable when dipped in a fish sauce bowl mixed up from minced garlic, sugar, and chilli and be eaten with salad, said Hai.

“These dishes are the perfect choice for a weekend party,” he said. 

Herbalist Nguyen Van Cuong of the Traditional Medicine Centre in Thai Binh said this traditional dish has existed in Vietnam for a long time. It is rich in protein, acid folic, zinc and particularly different sorts of vitamins such as B2, B6 and B12. They are very good for the immune system.

But Cuong warned that those with high blood pressure and gout should eat less beef to prevent complications. VNS

Ha Nguyen & Hoang Ho

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