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Ultimate grilled beef at Nha Trang eatery

Along with its wide open beaches, seafood right out of the ocean and hospitable people, Nha Trang can now boast about Lac Canh Grilled Beef Restaurant. Thanh Ha reports.

Packed: Lac Canh Restaurant is a favourite destination for local residents. It also hosts many tourists and foreigners.
Packed: Lac Canh Restaurant is a favourite destination for local residents. It also hosts many tourists and foreigners.

Nha Trang has been my top destination for several years because of its beautiful beaches, fresh and delicious seafood and friendly people.

Now there is another reason, the Lac Canh Grilled Beef.

One thing I have to do before packing for a trip is to update myself on basic information about the area. I have googled ‘Nha Trang’ several times over the past decade.

Each time, the Lac Canh Grilled Beef Restaurant was among the top search results.

I had earlier thought there was no need to add beef to the must-have list, while visiting a city of beaches that is famous for seafood.

This year I visited Nha Trang twice in one month.

The first time I ignored the restaurant, but during my second visit, I could not refuse to go there as my family was fed up with seafood and wanted to try something different.

We chose Lac Canh as it was located next to our hotel and during our first two days, we had all soaked in the pleasant smell coming from there throughout the day.

We walked into the restaurant very early and went up the stairs for a table near the balcony.

Getting hot in here: Grilled beef on charcoal brazier is the most famous dish at Lac Canh Restaurant and in all of Nha Trang.

A waitress came to us with a thick menu that had, I estimated, hundreds of dishes in written Vietnamese, Chinese, English and Russian. But it is better to watch what people around are eating and then point out the one you are interested in, as the photos in the menu are meant for illustrative purposes only.

We ordered grilled beef as the restaurant was known nationwide, luon dum, the second a Google suggestion, and a mixed salad.

Several minutes later, a charcoal brazier and a net grill were brought to the table, together with a dish of well-marinated beef cubes and served with a plate of vegetables comprising lettuce, tomatoes and onions in oil and vinegar.

It would have been easier if we had asked the cook to do the task, but in my opinion it is more fun if you prepare the super-mini BBQ on your own.

That way you can choose how the beef should be cooked. It will suit your palate better. We cooked the beef to rare.

Once you put the beef cubes on the net, you will immediately get the smell of food being grilled and prepared to be smoky and hot.

The meat was fresh, tender and delicious, such that I had never enjoyed while having local beef.

Next to us was an American couple who also tried to cook it themselves.

The smoke and do-it-yourself nature weren’t problems for Nathan Mills, who cheered us with a cup of beer. He said the food was so good that his table ordered another round of beef even though they were full.

The smokiness was part of the experience and the restaurant was a must-visit, his partner added. She said they enjoyed the reasonably priced meal, the ambience and eating with locals.

Well-plated: Luon dum is another suggestion when diners visit Lac Canh Restaurant.

Our beef and salad were finished off quickly and we decided to cancel other dishes for another round of beef. This time it came with Vietnamese bread that we soaked in the beef’s marinated sauce, and also put it on the net to grill it. It was crispy and spicy!

“I have eaten here for 20 years since I was a child, but have not been able to find the secret of their marinating sauce. It is really nice. You know, many people have tried to copy the recipe, but in vain. That’s the reason why the restaurant has been prospering for nearly 40 years,” Tran Vinh Loi, a local resident, said.

It is said that the secret recipe has honey and various kinds of spices. It is handed down from generation to generation, and is known to only specific members of the restaurant owner’s family.

“Everything is nearly the same. The small differences are that they have opened a shop across the road to fit more people, and fans with steam have been installed to make customers more comfortable,” Loi said.

Lac Canh Grilled Beef Restaurant

Address: 44 Nguyen Binh Khiem St, Nha Trang City

Tel: (058) 3821391

Time: 9.00am to 9.30pm

Price: from VND15,000

Comment: Be early birds to get best place, local prices and tasty food.

Beer, beef, salad and bread went perfectly together. And we ended the meal with fresh watermelon.

We returned to Lac Canh the next day to have dinner and enjoy other dishes, following Loi’s suggestions.

Luon dum was our first choice. It has eel in a mix of minced pork, rice vermicelli, onions and mushrooms, besides some other items covered in pig’s cault fat, which are then steamed. People often cut them into smaller pieces and eat them with crunchy rice pancakes.

“Excellent! It includes every flavour in one bite. It is on my must-eat list and I try to come here every time I am back in town,” Xin Tho, a tourist from Malaysia, said.

Like Tho, we also tried the spicy frogs, which she said they were juicy and difficult to find for the price.

The other dishes we ordered were chili and crispy rice mixed with sesame and fried rice with garlic. They are among a dozen varieties of rice dishes that are offered here, but these two are the most popular.

The rice dishes were not as fancy as the beef and the eel, but for us they were okay and that was what we were looking for.