I‘ve been seeing Halong Bay for a couple of months now. You pass by it on Colorado, and it just jumps out at you. It’s set, ironically enough, next to another one of my haunts, Lemongrass; and just across the street from another Vietnamese joint, Blue Hen. We’re getting quite the little Vietnamese quarter in Eagle Rock, which frankly is nothing but good news for me, and anyone else who loves Vietnamese food.
What separates Halong Bay from those other places, is its emphasis on the France’s connection to the Vietnamese. The magic in Vietnamese cuisine came from French Technique, and some French ingredients married to Vietnamese tradition and Vietnamese ingredients. What is the Banh-Mi except a marriage of Vietnamese tastes with the ever-present French Baguette?
Stepping inside Halong Bay itself like steeping into the pages of “The Quiet American” or one of Bourdain’s better Vietnam episodes. The furniture, the furnishings all give you that feel.
Of course, that’s not the moon shining over the River, that’s just Colorado Blvd., and looking out the window…that’s definitely Eagle Rock. The scroll menus were a cute touch, but a little unnecessary, only in that it took a little away from the French-Colonial feel. But atmosphere can make a meal. I’ve had better Vietnamese meals (but not by much), but few have ever felt better. Come over, kick back, and soak it all in.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, start off with a plate of their Spring Rolls, specifically the Halong Bay Rolls. Be mindful, since the website describes it as a: Roasted pork with a crispy roll, lettuce, basil, carrot and cucumber wrapped in rice paper. Served with special house sauce.
That house sauce…bad news if you have a peanut allergy. The kitchen was good enough to supply me with Soy and Hoisin (Plum) Sauce as a substitute, and the Hoisin left me quite happy.
I also had the Bo Lac Chao which is a Filet mignon sautéed with honey, chili, chopped shallots and garlic. Very tasty, yet very delicate. It’s a very nice mixture of tastes.
And do not leave without having some of the Thé, in this case, the Jasmine Beautiful Flower Tea. It’s a nice big cup of tea, with a wrapped bud inside. The bud will sink to the bottom of your cup and literally explode (slowly) in the water to form a flower. Once it does, enjoy to your good health.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Well, this is more of a safety tip for me, but this is one of the more seafood-heavy menus out there, lots of Shrimp and Fish. They also rely a lot on peanuts for sauces and garnishes. If you, like me, you suffer from both of these allergies, you need to be careful and talk to your Waiter/Waitress about what’s being used, and order accordingly.
PARKING: Good luck, because you’re parking on the street. Colorado can get crowded no matter what the hour, so you might be parking on the side streets. I found a space on Glen Iris Avenue around the corner, but bear in mind you are in a residential neighborhood, keep an eye out for any permit requirements, etc.