Ha Long Bay
In a word: At a Laos for words.
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Angela ate a noodle bowl with beef.
JM ate the curry pork and fried rice.
Nichole ate the laab.
Shari ate the wonton soup and a shrimp stir fry.
We split the spring rolls and a mango sticky rice.
The bill was about $60, or $15/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Ha Long Bay an A- (see our grading rubric).
Ha Long Bay was packed on a Monday night. Literally every seat was full of happy faces, some familiar. At the end of the meal Angela's neighbor even stopped by the table to say hi, patting his belly with satisfaction. As well he should have - many of the dishes here are tops. The only way it suffers, from what we can tell, is in a too-long Vietnamese/Thai/Chinese menu that could benefit from some focus. Plus, we were having such a good time that we kind of lost track of the details of our companions' meals - also to Ha Long Bay's credit. It's no mean feat to be good enough to not get in the way of a fine night out.
We started with spring (i.e. summer rolls), tidily wrapped bunches of rice noodles, carrots, cilantro, etc., with a light, sweet peanut sauce on the side. They were a more sophisticated version of the giant, delightfully messy $2 spring rolls at the "special vegetable food" cart on Library Mall.
The laab/larp was ordered hot and came that way, with a lovely side of sticky rice, carrots, onions and cucumbers. It instantly entered Nichole's top 3 local versions of the dish with Rising Sons and Lao Laan-Xang. JM's curry fried rice might have had a premade sauce, but he was satisfied. Angela's rice noodle dish was tasty and fresh but didn't necessarily knock her socks off (Humphrey's not looking for the competition anyway). Shari appreciated that the server really knew the menu and was able to answer questions about which dishes might have had added sugar to their sauces. Her wonton soup and stir fry were delicious. The finishing touch, a dessert of warm sticky rice and perfectly ripened mango, was fitting and filling. We'd come back even off-list.
Oh, and Angela's neighbor? The happy customer? Tory Miller.