One of the problems of having a reputation which precedes you is the pressure of continually having to live up to it.
Ask any restaurant savvy diner from Northampton to list their top five in the town and there’s a good chance they will include Dang’s Vietnamese Restaurant and, for the record, they’d be right.
Dang’s is one of Northampton’s best restaurants, despite some stiff competition from others who have set up nearby.
From the outside, it’s fairly inconspicuous. However, look a little closer and you’ll see it’s not just the people of Northampton raving about Dang’s.
For the past five years Dang’s has received a mention in the prestigious Michelin Guide, and although that doesn’t quite make it ‘star’ material, even achieving a mention is no mean feat.
Quite rightly, Dang’s makes a song and dance about this in its window.
Booking is essential. My partner and I visited on a Saturday, snapping up the last free table several days before.
Dang’s is split between two levels. When you walk in, the first thing you see is the food being cooked as you pass by on the way to the main seated area downstairs.
We were quickly greeted and shown to our table. A waiter came and took our drink orders and also brought a selection of prawn crackers.
We ordered two soft drinks (£3.60 each) which arrived promptly.
There’s a selection of about 15 different starters on the menu and we chose Dang’s mixed starter (£5.60 each).
This included Vietnamese spring rolls, deep fried chicken wings, seafood fishcakes and deep fried vegetarian dumplings, with fried onions and fresh chillies.
They arrived on one large plate with a selection of dips.
The fishcakes and dumplings were the stand-out items of the starter. The former was a large ball fried in a batter with a succulent juicy centre.
Main courses are split between soups, vegetarian, meat and seafood dishes.
I ordered Thit vit sao tau xi den (roast duck, bamboo shoots, choi sum, chillies and coriander in a light soy sauce) and Bun tron hanh phi (Vermicelli noodles with fried shallots and spring onions in a soy sauce). They cost £12.95 and £3.50 respectively.
My partner ordered Bun canh cha ca (Udon noodles, pork balls, fried salmon chunks, belly pork and choi sum in a rich tomato soup). It cost £12.95.
It contained generous chunks of salmon with a couple of minced pork balls while the soup itself was packed full of flavour, moderately spicy.
My main meal included several slices of duck cooked perfectly, crispy on the top with succulent meat.
The dish had a strong coriander flavour, was mildly spicy with a subtle soy taste.
The noodles, served with both dishes were thick and seemed to last an eternity.
Staff were friendly and regularly on hand to replenish our drinks and check how things were.
While Dang’s menu boasts a huge selection of starters and mains, there wasn’t as much choice for dessert and we both opted against one.
If you haven’t been to Dang’s, do go. It’s one of the best restaurants in Northamptonshire with little else like it.
Dang’s 205 Wellingborough Rd Northampton, NN1 4ED
VALUE: A bit pricey
DISABLED ACCESS: No
PARKING: On street
COST OF OUR MEAL
FINAL TOTAL: £50.50
David’s star rating: 8/10