Editor's note: Twice a month, we will pair a performing arts event in North Texas with a nearby restaurant, so you can make a night of your arts going. The restaurant reviews are written by Kelly Kirkendoll, a longtime North Texas public relations guru and food blogger who has the Kitchen Gone Rogue blog, where she writes about the local dining scene and shares recipes and other tips. Look for this column on occasional Wednesdays.
Dallas — In 2016, when the AT&T Performing Arts Center's much-missed off-Broadway on Flora series brought in a tour of Dave Malloy's Ghost Quartet, which was performed at LIFE in Deep Ellum, it was one of the year's highlights. Malloy is best known for his immersive musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which transferred to Broadway (and should have won the Best Musical Tony over Dear Evan Hansen).
Ghost Quartet is his earlier musical, a song cycle about love, death and whiskey. And, as the title leads you to believe, it will haunt you for days after seeing it. Imprint's production, directed by Ashley H. White with musical direction by Adam C. Wright, features the cast of Mindy Bell, Devin Berg, Benjamin Brown, and Brandon Wilhelm, each of whom plays at least one instrument during the performance.
Performances are at the Bath House Cultural Center.
Mai Hot Ba
Address: 6047 Lewis St. in Dallas
- Sunday & Monday (closed)
- Tuesday - Thursday – 5 to 10pm
- Friday and Saturday – 5 to 11pm
Parking: street parking
Distance from the show venue: about 10-15 minutes away
For this week’s “ Dinner and a Show” column, I reviewed Mot Hai Ba, a modern Vietnamese gem that's located in the Lakewood Neighborhood of Dallas.
Mot Hai Ba is relatively small, but it’s also charming and cozy with communal tables and low cushioned stools that are surprisingly comfortable. If you need a little more elbow room, you can sit at the small bar or outside on the covered patio. If you’re going with a group, I recommend calling ahead to see if you can snag the large round table at the front of the restaurant that seats 8-10 people. When we stopped in, a large group of old friends were happily dining there.
The restaurant’s cuisine is northern Vietnamese fare, but both the food and the wine list have a French influence. However, the most significant influence is chef/owner Peja Krstic, the detail-oriented culinary wizard behind the creative dishes coming out of Mot Hai Ba's small but powerful kitchen.
The restaurant's menu changes seasonally. When we stopped in, the appetizer options ranged from imperial rolls to fried oysters, grilled duck hearts, a banana flower salad and more.
We ordered the charcoal grilled oysters, and they were among the best oysters I've ever eaten. Delicate and fresh, they had a nuanced flavor. Like a good steak needs no sauce, these oysters needed zero condiments. You can order just one ($4 each), but you'll want more.
The entree menu also varies seasonally. When we were there, the entrees ranged from a vegan baby carrot entree to shaking beef, steamed rice dumplings, whole fish, eggplant curry, red snapper, green curry chicken and a jasmine tea smoked quail.
A chef's special was also available that we couldn't pass up — a light and flaky North Atlantic sushi-grade fluke with a lovely roasted ginger and sake mete sauce. On top was a preserved lemon black truffle and chive tuile — a delicate thin wafer that’s slightly sweet and melts in your mouth. If they had an order of it on the appetizer (or dessert) menu, I’d order it for sure. And then I’d order more to take home with me.
We also enjoyed the Green Curry Chicken (Ga Ca Ri Xanh). This entree is made with charcoal grilled air chilled chicken breast with seasonal vegetables and tofu in a fresh green curry sauce. The chicken was juicy, tender and flavorful. The curry sauce had a complex depth, and everything it touched — from the chicken to the tofu to the bok choy — turned to green curry gold in my mouth.
For sides, we ordered the bok choy and roasted mushrooms. If we had been able to eat more, we would have also tried the garlic noodles.
Our experience at Mot Hai Ba spoke and tasted of an attention to details. Even the coffee; it was delightfully rich, nutty and smooth. I drink it black, but if you love your Vietnamese coffee loaded up with condensed milk, they've got you covered.
I look forward to returning and sampling additional menu items, more coffee and selections from their wine list (not necessarily in that order).
» View more pictures from Mai Hot Ba by clicking the slideshow icon in the floating menu at the lower left of your screen
» You can also read Kelly's review of Fixture Kitchen and Social Lounge on her blog, Kitchen Gone Rogue, which has additional photos.