Vietnamese food is a rarity in Eugene, Oregon — good Vietnamese food is even less common. Da Nang Vietnamese Eatery partners with swanky wine bar and neighbor, Oregon Wine LAB, to provide a simple and delicious taste of Vietnam in a prime location in downtown Eugene. The wine bar provides an indoor experience with a hip atmosphere while Da Nang is a truck just outside the front doors that adds food dishes to round out the experience.
The award-winning Vietnamese food truck, located at 488 Lincoln St., is unapologetically simple and authentic. Three protein options (steak, chicken and tofu) are offered in four different mediums: over white rice or chilled Vermicelli noodles, in a baguette or in a salad. Each option is served with their spicy hot sauce, house sauce, crushed peanuts, fried shallots and cilantro.
The atmosphere of the food truck is another draw. When you walk up to the counter, there are usually a couple of young guys cooking up gourmet food while listening to Kendrick Lamar. The beverage options include a selection of La Croix labeled “Millennial Water,” and that's it. When the food is as good as it is, there is some leeway with the cheeky jokes.
For the few-and-far-between warm Eugene days, outdoor seating is provided by the Wine LAB. Wooden picnic tables adorn the outdoor nook that houses the food truck and the patio of the wine bar. When the nights edge on the colder side, the Wine LAB keeps its doors open for the Da Nang food truck patrons to join them for a glass of wine or local brew inside.
The Wine LAB looks like a condo a millionaire might buy if they wanted a weekend getaway to Eugene’s hippie wonderland but were still looking for the same upscale, modern feel of their New York penthouse. Eclectic artwork hangs from the walls overlooking the black leather couches and contemporary tables.
If the perfectly marinated meats on soft white rice or inside a crispy baguette aren’t coming soon enough, the wine bar offers a charcuterie board to tide over those impatient appetites. After eating the spicy Banh Mi masterpiece along with a glass of local wine, fine truffles provided by the Wine LAB from Eugene’s own Euphoria Chocolates are a good way to end the night.
The Emerald’s choice dish at Da Nang is the beef over the jasmine white rice and greens. The rice is a perfect medium for the juicy, flavorful steak topped with the reasonably spicy hot sauce. According to the Da Nang menu, the steak and chicken are “grilled and marinated with lemongrass, garlic, green onion and secrets.” All the flavors come through and are paired well with the simple rice; the secrets inside the steak and chicken are kept quiet for a reason. The steak tastes high-quality and tender with hints of zest and garlic that are paired well with the crunchy peanuts and chives. The greens and chopped carrots atop the steak and rice provide a fresh taste to pair with the other two main components.
A night at Da Nang and the Wine LAB is sure to provide a fun, swanky and flavorful experience for those willing to try something a little bit different.