De Xao Lan (Spicy Goat Curry) Special at Hai Duong.
There is a special going on at Hai Duong at the Eden Center. It was my first time trying this place and they couldn't tell me what the special was (funny enough they also told me I shouldn't order it, that I wouldn't like it) so I looked it up on my phone. Goat curry. This version was excellent. Tender, goat-ie, it had peanuts and fish sauce with watercress, lemon grass and a ton of finely chopped serrano peppers. It is served with a lime wedge and this amazing coarse salt that is spicy. I don't know if they buy or make the spicy salt, but it was incredible. Not sure what to do I squeezed the lime on the meat and dipped it in the spicy salt.
It came with a small loaf of french bread which was great for dippin in the bottom of the bowl, but as high as my tolerance is for spice by the end of the bowl of serranos in delicious goat sauce my mouth was getting heated up.
This is a great dish in a little clay bowl. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes spice and goat meat. Oh! I almost forgot, it has a lot fatty pork skin in it. It is not crispy, it is soft and tasty, but some people may not like the texture--went great with the spicy salt. I think I will go back tomorrow. Mmm.
Happy labouring day all.
Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the tip on the goat curry at Hai Duong.
Not only was it spectacularly good, it let me make a small bit of progress toward convincing the restaurant to let non-Vietnamese customers have the good stuff.
We arrived and quickly decided on the baby clams, the pigs foot soup, and the sizzling catfish ... but there was no goat curry to be found on the menu. I got up and started studying the specials board, which is only in Vietnamese, and the waiter rushed over, loudly assuring me, "Everything the same as the menu, exactly the same. Exactly the same." I responded, "Oh, can we have the curried goat? It's not on the menu." He did a quick double take, but recovered nicely. Since we devoured everything, maybe it helped convince the waiter that not all non-Vietnamese-Americans are timid eaters.
The baby clams were just as good as ever (though I think Hai Duong's version isn't quite up to that of Present) and the sizzling catfish on a bed of fennel was superb. I wasn't greatly impressed by the pigfoot soup, it seemed a little bland though the pig's foot itself was pretty good, but my wife and son both thought it made a nice contrast to the other dishes.
For my taste Hai Duong has to be in the very top tier of DC restaurants of any price range. While I'm there I can even convince myself that it might be the best restaurant in DC.
I took up your suggestion, and I was really glad I did. You describe the dish well. I was instructed to squeeze the lime on the salt mixture, then dip the meat in that. The paste it made acted as a kind of flavor amplifier to the goat curry. I was given a choice of rice or bread, and I 'm really happy I chose the bread. Makes for fantastic dipping into the soupy stew.
The whiteboard in the dining room says the De Xao Lan is a 'new special' making me think it could hang around for a while.