Lanterns Restaurant, Nha Trang: Authentic Vietnamese Food
Lanterns, Nha Trang - Restaurant Review
Cuisine: Authentic Vietnamese
Location: Nha Trang
Style Points: 3/5
Whether you ask a local or a seasoned Vietnam tourist about where you can find some of the best Vietnamese food in Nha Trang, the name Lanterns will almost certainly crop up in the conversation. Opened in 2008 by Robert Costabile, an Australian who fell in love with Nha Trang and its people, the restaurant has since gone from strength to strength in terms of popularity and size. Initially capable of serving 50 diners, the restaurant has grown over the years and after moving location, albeit just a short walk away, Lanterns now serves over 120 covers and is on top of a building overlooking a main road full of shops and restaurants and is about a ten minute walk away from the seafront. Robert has also just opened a branch in his hometown of Melbourne, taking Vietnamese specialties back to his home country.
The restaurant itself, like its namesake, is covered in red lanterns that provide a nice ambience and relaxed atmosphere.
The menu is pretty large and provides a wide range of options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. There are several Vietnamese street food dishes and specialty items as well as meat platters, claypot/hotpot dishes, fish/seafood dishes and vegetarian dishes. To be honest, we were quite overwhelmed with the amount of choices so decided to ask the staff for recommendations and were recommended the Sup Kem Gah or Cream of Chicken Soup and the Bắp Xào Hanh or Fried Corn with Spring Onion. The soup was nice and warming but perhaps needed a little seasoning and the fried corn was lightly spiced and sweet but also quite a huge portion so we couldn’t finish it all. In hindsight, I was quite surprised that we were recommended these dishes because I don’t think they best reflected what Lanterns is all about. if I could go back I would choose more authentic Vietnamese dishes as I felt these were not their strongest starters.
Not to worry, the mains were next and this time I ordered the much more authentic Cà Ri or Vietnamese curry with chicken and served with rice. I was not disappointed. The curry was flavoured with wonderful spices along with lemongrass and lashings of coconut milk and cooked with chunks of chicken and hearty vegetables including potatoes, carrots, peppers, onions and sweet potatoes. It was a perfectly balanced curry without being too heavy or sweet and was perfect with the rice.
We also tried the Heo Rim or Simmering Pork served with rice. This was another curry dish but this time tomato based with chunks of juicy pork cooked with sweet peppers, garlic and onions. The sauce had a slightly sweet taste and I expect the sauce or the pork was cooked with brown sugar to give it a caramel style bbq glaze. Although not as nice as the chicken curry, it was still very good and I’d definitely recommend it if you like sweet and sour pork or other sweet curry dishes.
The dishes were all of such huge portions that we decided to forego dessert however we did finish our meal with a nice cup of green tea served in cute little teacups!
The Cream of Chicken Soup was 65,000 Dong (£2.25/$2.79) and the Fried Corn with Spring Onion was 55,000 Dong (£1.89/$2.36.) Vietnamese curry with chicken and rice was 119,000 Dong (£4/$5.10) and Simmering Pork served with rice was 115,000 Dong (£3.94/$4.94.) The total was 354,000 Dong (£12.14/$15.20) which is very cheap given the quantity of food you receive.
Lanterns is the ideal restaurant for those wanting to familiarise themselves with traditional Vietnamese food in a relaxed and comfortable setting. In a place where it can sometimes be hard to find authentic Vietnamese dishes, this is the perfect restaurant to get a taste of local delights. Although I think I chose the wrong type of starters, the main dishes were very good and the menu offers a great selection of street and local dishes. If you do decide to go, forget the soup and starters and get straight into the street food section. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Book your table at Lanterns Restaurant Nha Trang.
Address: 30A Nguyễn Thiện Thuật, Tân Lập, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam
Special thanks to Lanterns Restaurant for their hospitality!