Finding the best restaurant in Da Nang, and of my life, was unexpected. I knew little about Da Nang before arriving, other than it had a beach. We landed in the evening and had a taxi pick us up and take us to the hotel we had booked. At $20USD a night, it was a bargain. It had fairly good reviews and the pictures looked good, but I wondered if there was a catch.
The hotel, Son Ha Europa, was a couple of blocks from the beach, but off the main road. As we pulled up to the hotel, next to an empty lot, I saw a young boy peeing in the gutter. I was a little horrified that we had arrived on the wrong side of the tracks. However, once we arrived the staff gave us a warm greeting and took us to our fairly nice rooms. After an exhausting day of traveling, we were all keen to hit the hay.
The next day we had errands to do – namely laundry. The hotel prices were too high, so we walked our washing down the road and saved ourselves $50USD. We wandered to the beach and walked along the glistening golden sands. Da Nang is the vacation spot for local Vietnamese, so locals lazed about the sand and watched their kids play in the water. Sitting at a restaurant on the beach, we sipped from fresh coconuts and were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.
For lunch we headed to the main town, which was a 20 minute walk away from the beach. We had to cross a highway to get there, running across the traffic during a short lull. It was a very hot day, around 32 degrees Celsius, with zero cloud cover. We quickly regretted walking the distance to the lunch spot. Stopping at Fat Fish Restaurant, a recommendation from the Lonely Planet guidebook, we ordered the “Meat Deck” (meat on focaccia bread) and a local craft beer tasting platter. The bar was fairly modern, to the point that it wouldn’t have been out of place at the Auckland Viaduct in New Zealand.
As we settled in, the waitress bought over two chilled facecloths for us. It was the most heavenly slice of fabric I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. The beer was delicious and the meat deck was out of this world. The meat desk came with three types of taste experiences, one pork, one bruschetta and one with wagyu beef. They were all delicious, but the wagyu beef was the winner on the day. The whole meal set us back $10USD each, which was actually ridiculously expensive for Vietnam. Despite being on a diet of rice and Pringles for the past week, thanks to my body adjusting to the new microbes in Vietnam, this was the most delicious meal I’ve ever had.
We caught a taxi further into town and wandered around the shops. Despite our best intentions we were forced to retreat to the air conditioned comfort of a mall. The streets were fairly quiet; with the exception of the Kiwi accents we seemed to keep hearing all over the place. We stopped for another beer, purely for cooling purposes of course, and watched the world go by from a second storey restaurant. Watching the traffic is as entertaining as any movie I have seen. That evening we met up with Sarah and Shaun again and we ended up back at Fat Fish Restaurant. The waitress recognized us and was surprised that we had come back again. It seems more surprising to me that anyone ever leaves the place. If they would let me I’d set up camp underneath one of the lovely wooden tables. This time we had pizza and it was just as delicious.
I’m not sure if I would recommend Da Nang as a place to visit. It had enough to keep us entertained for two days, but other than a convenient way to fly to the middle of Vietnam it didn’t have a whole lot to offer. The beach was nice, but not the best. However, if anything, I would recommend the Fat Fish Restaurant. That perhaps is worth a trip around the world to discover.
Click here for the next in the series.