Da Nang seafood is the best in Vietnam. There, I said it. It might be true, it might not be, but I really want to believe it, because I really love the seafood here.
Eating Da Nang Seafood
In an earlier post, I gave some tips for ordering seafood in Da Nang. Here I want to provide more of an overview of the seafood scene here in Da Nang. First, a disclaimer of sorts: most of the seafood restaurants here are good. The reason is because most of the seafood is cooked in a fairly simple way: it’s either steamed, grilled or maybe sauteed. If you start with fresh seafood, it’s pretty difficult to screw it up. Take the fish (clams/scallops/prawns), clean out the guts (or don’t), throw it on the grill. When the skin turns black, put it on a plate and bring it to the table with a) something to dip it in and maybe b) something to roll it in. Not that hard. On the other hand, if the seafood isn’t fresh, you pretty much can’t hide it. That’s why Vietnamese people prefer minimal seasoning when it comes to their seafood and, conversely, are skeptical of seafood that’s over-seasoned. ‘Naked’ cooking, so to speak.
All that to say, when I hear “So-and-so restaurant has the best grilled fish!” or “Their steamed clams are so sweet and delicious!”, what they really mean is that so-and-so restaurant knows how to acquire and maintain fresh seafood. Now THAT is the real skill behind running a good seafood place.
Picking a Da Nang Seafood Restaurant
With so many places to choose from, how do you go about picking a good one? Here’s what to look for:
If you can’t see it, don’t order it. And if you can’t see it swimming around (because it’s on ice), then you better know the place pretty well.
Not as obvious as it seems. Yes, a crowded place means it’s popular with the locals, which is usually a good sign. But more importantly, popular places have high turnover of inventory i.e. those clams you just ordered haven’t been sitting in the tank for a month.
This is a good bet assuming the first two conditions check out. There seems to be an inverse relationship between fancy decor and good seafood. Maybe it’s because they spend their time/money/energy on decorating the place instead of looking after the stock, maybe it’s because they know their seafood is sub-par and have to make up for it somehow, I’m not sure. I’ve never had great seafood from a fancy restaurant here; on the other hand, all my favorite places seem to be… a bit shabby.
Armed with these tips, you’re ready to get into the Da Nang seafood. Of course if you’d like like to check out some of my favorite seafood places, along with lots of other great local food, check out my Da Nang food tour.