The Nen Restaurant in Danang celebrates Vietnamese cuisine… but it also turns it on its head.
It’s refined. It’s experimental. It’s creative. But most important it’s the love for the Vietnamese cuisine that is really showcased when you visit.
The Nen Restaurant is a degustation restaurant that celebrates the Vietnamese cuisine and its local produce, while using sophisticated techniques to elevate the Vietnamese food scene to a new level.
The Nen Restaurant in Danang is truly a hidden gem tucked away from the busy Danang city.
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Our Experience at the Nen Restaurant in Danang
I had just arrived to Danang to visit Dad. While it wasn’t a long flight, traveling always gets me a bit tired. So, while Dad was still at work, I spent the afternoon at the hotel pool and enjoyed the sunny sky.
Being in Danang after 20 years away, it was amazing to be back and I was eager to check out the food scene. After much research and reading, Dad and I decided to visit Nen.
It was early in the evening and we made our way to the restaurant. I will admit, it was not easy to find for our taxi driver. Bring out Google Maps, and a several turns down side streets, we eventually found our way to Nen,which was tucked away in a residential neighborhood of Danang.
Our initial impression of the restaurant looked to be a converted bungalow style house, but already from the entrance, we felt a warm welcome. As Dad and I entered throught the gate into the small garden out front, the eager staff of Nen came outside to welcome us. It was at this point that we knew we were in for a great evening.
It all started with a blog for Summer Le from Danang
Meet Summer Le, the star chef behind the Nen Restaurant in Danang. Born and bred in Danang, Summer always felt a deep connection to her home town and its local cuisine.
Years prior to started Nen, Summer had spent 5 years studying business in Australia and Japan. But some time later, something sparked inside of her and she decided to do a complete 180-degree career change. From studying business, Summer decided to attend culinary school in Vietnam.
In 2010, together with her sister Helen, the pair started up the food blog “Danang Cuisine” where they wrote about and shared their food experiences in and around Da Nang, as well as sharing Vietnamese food recipes. The blog grew so popular, that it was featured on media networks including the likes of the New York Times, and 8 years later, the blog still continues to spread the love of all things food in Danang.
Fast forward 7 years from starting “Danang Cuisine”, Summer decided to venture into her own Vietnamese restaurant, where it was her goal to push the boundaries of Vietnamese cuisine and put it on the map.
And when Summer is not busy in the kitchen whipping up something interesting, she shares her love for Danang and its food highlights with tourists. Summer runs the “Funtastic Danang Food Tour” which takes foodies and tourists alike to various spots around Danang including some of the oldest and most famous local eateries.
6-course Degustation Menu at Nen Restaurant in Danang
As soon as we were seated, the waiter explained that there were 2 degustation menus we could select from. The Refined Vietnamese menu was recommended to those who were new to Central Vietnamese food, whilst the New Vietnamese menu was recommended was more experimental whilst still celebrating Vietnamese ingredients. It’s for those who want to explore another side to Vietnamese food. Ummm… yes that’s where I’m at!
So, with the New Vietnamese Menu picked, we were almost ready for dinner…but not until we picked our drinks.
The beverage menu was also very interesting. Whilst there was a great international selection of wines, I was impressed by the other selections….specifically the beers. The menu showcased two craft beer companies (7 Bridges Brewing Company and East West Brewing Co) that have been created and brewed in Vietnam. Hooray to locally crafted beers! With 14 beers to choose from, I opted for the Sunset Weizen from 7 Bridges, which is a local Danang brewing company.
The New Vietnamese Degustation Menu
The 6-course menu began with an aperitif, which consisted of a house-made apple liquor paired with local fruit pickle, then followed by a surprise amuse-bouche.
The first main dish arrived and we enjoyed a Vietnamese crab bisque, and a dry-aged duck salad. Upon the arrival of every item on the table, the waiter carefully describes the dish. The crab bisque used a sweet water crab from the Vietnamese rice fields, which is then cooked in a pumpkin soup – umm yum! Then there was the duck salad, which used a dry-aged duck which had been aged for 75 days (wow!) and then paired with a kumquat sauce. Another yummm moment!
And before we could move on to the next dish, a palate cleanser is served – coconut cream with banana. Ohhh how it tasted like dessert and I loved it.
For the second main dish, we had deep-fried quail, and a slow-cooked beef tongue. Interesting ingredients indeed. The quail was served with ‘doi seed’ which gave the dish a slight woody taste. Then the beef tongue was served on a rice noodle sheet and also same with crispy pineapple.
The third dish was almost ready to come out, but not before the next palate cleanser – a lime tea granita served with coconut jelly. Yumm! I am loving all these coconut additions.
For the third main dish, we were served a soft-shell crab served in tamarind sauce, glass noodles, and lime foam. This was delicious indeed…but wow the star of the evening was the smoked braised fish. It came served with a glass cover filled with smoked oak. On the table, the waiter pulled the glass cover off and a lovely whiff of oak filled the air. The fish is served with a reddish coloured rice, which came from being cooked using a local fruit called “Gac” giving the rice its reddish color.
And when we thought it was time for dessert, another palate cleanser is served – a Vietnamese coffee drop, which used a gastronomical technique to create a jelly drop that explodes in your mouth with a rich Vietnamese coffee flavor. Delicious!
And finally for dessert, we enjoyed a rich ginger ice cream and silken tofu – ohhh yum yum yum again! I absolutely loved the sharp flavor of the ginger in the ice cream, and the tofu was ohh so silken.
And to end the evening, Chef Summer came out to the table to serve us a refreshing butterfly pea tea. On the table, the tea appeared a vibrant blue color, and with a few drops of lemon into the cup, it changed to a lovely purple color.
Ohh and can I just say, the service team here were just incredible – they were so friendly, efficient, and accommodating. They also had such a great knowledge of the food menu and the restaurant’s philosophy, that it made the whole experience so much more memorable.
Summer Le’s philosophy for Nen Restaurant
At the end of our dinner, we had a wonderful conversation with Chef Summer. She shared with us her vision for Nen.
For Summer, she wants Vietnamese cuisine and Vietnamese ingredients to be front and centre for every menu item. While some of the techniques used might be foreign, the ingredients are as much as possible local. So local, that many of the ingredients are grown and prepared in-house as much as possible. From growing local herbs and fruits in their own gardens, to preparing house-made ingredients such as their own fish sauce and liquors, for Summer serving the best quality ingredients is so important for her.
Summer explained to us that in Vietnam, finding good quality protein can be challenging. But she hasn’t let these challenges deter her from her goal to showcase Vietnamese food on a fine dining level. Instead, Summer found ways to use the amazing fresh local produce, herbs and spices to create her very fine dishes.
She further explained that for instance, if she were to create a ‘Wagyu Pho’ using imported beef, she would carefully ensure that the wagyu is not the star ingredient. Instead, she would work hard to prepare the pho noodles and its broth so that these items would be what stood out for the dish.
If you are looking for a very different experience of Vietnamese food, you definitely have to check out the Nen Restaurant while you’re in Danang. It’s a hidden gem in the Danang food scene, and well worth the visit.
Not only is the food experience amazing, the service is incredible. The staff are extremely friendly and accommodating and are so knowledgeable (and passionate) about the food menu.
Currently the restaurant is open for dinner session from 5 to 10pm, and making a reservation is suggested especially if you plan to come on the weekend. The degustation menus start from VN874,000 plus 15% taxes (U$39 / A$51). While the two main degustation menu does contain meat, there is a third menu available that caters for vegetarians and vegans (minimum 5 hours notice is needed).
To reserve your table at Nen, you can call them on +84-905743070 or book online through the following link.
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Thanks for this yummy post! I am very curious when it comes to food and I fell that discovering different flavors is always an interesting way to get to know another culture. This is an interesting place to taste an innovative approach to delicious Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnam is just a place filled with opportunities for people to open amazing concepts and restaurants. Nen looks like an amazing place and makes me so hungry to read through your journey there. Can’t wait to be back in Vietnam for it in October!
A great post a out an equally great restaurant. The food looks to die for and your photos have come out real well. Love Vietnamese food and this one sure stands out. A shot flight from kl mkes it quite easy to reach. Thanks for sharing this gem.
6 courses! My word it sounds fantastic! You’ve definitely got my mouth watering here! I love the sound of the duck salad – it’s one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes. The tofu pudding sounds interesting as well – I wouldn’t have thought it would be nice in a sweet with ice cream… but it’s good to try new things.
This place sounds and looks amazing – I am salivating! How delicious. I love all the palate cleansers, and the nice coconut touches everywhere sound really refreshing. I love traditional Vietnamese cuisine but think this would blow my mind even more! And bonus points for such amazing service too. Yummy!
This is so lovely. As a Vietnamese, I love discovering new restaurants in my country, and Nen restaurant looks amazing. The food looks so tasty. I was in Danang last year but would love to go back and eat here.
Ohhh Ha, it was a lovely and very interesting experience. I hope you get the chance to try it when you’re in Danang next
I have never been to Vietnam but love to taste for Vietnamese cuisine. Though vegetarian, I hopefully find something for myself here in this restaurant or in Vietnamese cuisine. Nen Restaurant looks cozy place for dinner and the presentation of dishes also looks tempting and appealing.
Not easy for taxi driver to find? That itself says how special and secluded the restaurant is!
House brewed apple liquor topped with local pickle? You’re making me very hungry right now!!!
Ginger icecream? I haven’t heard of that!
I’m not gonna lie, I pretty much ate pho for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when I was in Vietnam – and I was as happy as can be. But next time I have a chance to go to Vietnam, I definitely want to try something like this! The dishes look packed with delightful flavors and they’re all so beautifully plated. I love how you got palate cleansers between plates too. Just shows how much thought the chefs put into customers’ dining experience.