My girlfriend and I were looking to have something to eat after arriving in Ho Chi Minh. The friendly staff at The Like Hostel recommended Den Long which is just a short walk from The Like Hostel.
Den Long is homophonic to 灯笼 (deng long), the Chinese translation of “lanterns”. Sure enough, the entrance to Den Long restaurant is decorated with colorful lanterns that Hoi An is famous for. We had just come from Hoi An, it’s like going back to Hoi An all over again.
We were promptly shown into the restaurant and seated. The walls of the restaurant are painted in turquoise colour and the ceiling are covered with long strips of coloured cloths. There are various wall art depicting traditional Vietnamese handicrafts. The restaurant has done a nice job of marrying Vietnamese traditions with modern contemporary look.
Goi Cuon (Shrimp and Pork Shrimp Rolls) [85000 VND] is one of Vietnam’s most iconic food. It is similar to the Chinese spring roll, but this is the healthier version. Using rice paper instead of flour wrap, it is filled with chopped meat or seafood and fresh vegetables. They are refreshingly-light, perfect for the humid weather of Southeast Asia.
Banh Khoai Hue (Crunchy Vietnamese – Hue “Crepe”) [85000 VND] is supposed to be a speciality of Hue, hence the name. It is the Vietnamese version of the French crepe, except that rice flour is used instead of plain flour. There are also no butter, milk and eggs in the crepe, which makes the banh khoai healthier. I wasn’t very impressed. The crepe wasn’t crispy at all, filled with a few bean sprouts, two pieces of ham and two prawns. And this is supposed to be a speciality of Hue.
There really is nothing special about Dau Hu Chien (Fried Tofu with Special Lemon Grass Sauce) [58000 VND] which is exactly what it says it is. The lemongrass sauce gives the dish a nice aromatic fragrance.
Com La Sen (House Special Fried Rice in Lotus Leaf) [95000 VND] is bland and oily, with two pathetic pieces of prawns on top and some garnishing. The fried rice is almost tasteless and the fact that it is served in lotus leaf doesn’t help at all.
The complimentary cup of lotus tea served at the end of the meal is about the only thing I really liked about Den Long restaurant. The hot tea has a light lotus fragrance which is really calming.
I personally will not go back to Den Long again. I mean it is a nicely-decorated restaurant which is great if you care more about the ambience than the food itself. Although the prices are considered cheap as compared to many affluent countries, it is still much more expensive than many other restaurants. I have had delicious banh cuon and bun ga at Banh Cuon Gia Truyen for a fraction of the price here. It is really more for tourists, which is why you will see many Westerns dining here. I just don’t feel the quality of the food justifies the prices.
Den Long (Ho Chi Minh)
Address: 130 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Telephone: +84 90 994 91 83
Opening Hours: Daily 11am – 10pm
Den Long (Da Nang)
Address: 71 Ly Thuong Kiet Street | Hai Chau District, Da Nang, Vietnam
Telephone: +84 511 3887377
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am – 3.30pm; 5.30pm – 9.30pm (last order 9pm)