Vietnamese tradition meets modern, seasonal inspirations at Mot Hai Ba, a tiny neighborhood spot in East Dallas run by Serbian-born chef Peja Krstic. But that description doesn’t quite convey what’s so special about one of the most creative restaurants in town. Vietnam is just the starting point for a culinary journey which can include locally farmed or foraged produce, French or modernist cooking techniques, elaborate presentations and deceptive simplicity. The drinks program makes the most out of its limited space, with a short but appealing cocktail list and a handful of wines chosen to pair brilliantly with the food.
Top pick: It’s hard to say, because the menu changes with the seasons and with Krstic’s inspirations. Recently there’s been an upswing in dumpling action, and banana flower salad, grilled duck hearts and a low-and-slow braised lamb neck are reliable favorites.
The downside: The dining room is so small that a table can be hard to snag, and the “chairs” — they’re actually footstools — will punish any diner with even the slightest hint of a back problem. In good weather, the patio helps.