Dallas' Most Interesting Restaurants No. 43: Mot Hai Ba

The vegetarian pho at mot hai ba
The vegetarian pho at mot hai ba
Scott Reitz

Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. 

A crispy Vietnamese pancake filled with seafood may be one of life's greatest pleasures. Most restaurants, including Mot Hai Ba in East Dallas, serve them with a plate full of herbs and a sweetened fish sauce for dipping. A diner is invited to wrap a slice of pancake up in a lettuce leaf with a little cilantro and mint, dunk the whole thing, and do his best to keep the results off his shirt while he eats.

Before Mot Hai Ba opened two years ago, the only way to get a great pancake was to drive to Garland or Richardson. Now you can stumble out of Cosmos Bar and Lounge after seven martinis, cross the street and plant your face in one of the best pancakes inside the loop or out.

Come for lunch and enjoy a light and bright banana flower salad with bits of pulled chicken, or an updated take on the banh mi sandwich with plenty of pâté. You'll pay higher prices than at Mot Hai Ba's suburban counterparts, but the ingredients are nicer and the presentation is worth it.

At dinner, chef Peja Krstic interprets Vietnamese dishes with a modern slant. Crab meat that used to be stuffed into bamboo and roasted gets stuffed into a soft leek, instead. Steak is wrapped in betel leaves before spending some time on the grill. You won't find cooking like this at other Vietnamese restaurants.

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