I grew up in Ottawa but moved away when I was 8. When I go back I often stick to the By-ward market area because I like the coziness of it. There are the stores I frequent each trip, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant (Saigon, also listed on this blog), and its just comfortable.
One of my friends who lives in Ottawa finally got me out of my “comfort” zone recently and reminded how much more Ottawa has to offer.
We took a stroll up Elgin street, starting at Parliament making our way towards the Glebe area (Where I grew up). We strolled into the cutest gift shop, The Gifted Type, which you can get lost in for a while. After shopping it was time for food, there is an abundance of choices along Elgin, and we decided on Datsun.
This was the best dinner I’d had in a bit, not only was it delicious but we just had an overall fun time. The staff is awesome, and there is an upbeat feeling running throughout the restaurant. Specializing in contemporary Asian cuisine, there is a variety of small and larger plates to chose from. Recommendation is to share the larger plates family style to experience a variety of dishes.
There were some cocktails on special when we got there (they also have a general bar happy hour if you go early enough). Our server told us that they had special mugs they put the specialty cocktails in and mentioned an awesome parrot mug they have. Obviously I wanted my drink in the parrot mug! I ordered a Mai Tai which normally comes in a smaller mug so, we my consent to add more ice, they adapted it into the parrot mug, and it was the best!
Food was hard to decide on, there were so many tempting choices! We each started with a pork belly bao (with cucumber and broad bean sauce) for $6.50 each which was heaven! Our server brought us a house sweet chili sauce that he recommended accompanying our dishes. I was hesitant, which I think he saw, because I’m not a big ‘hot” person. He was quick to explain he’s not big on hot sauces but this one leaned more towards sweet and I wouldn’t regret it, he was right! it was delicious and we used it throughout the night. If you are someone who likes a lot of heat then you will want to ask what other sauces they have to ramp it up a bit.
We shared 3 larger plates. Crispy chicken & pork spring rolls (with lettuce and lime leaf mignonette) for $13. These were good but after the abundance of flavour in the pork belly bao, felt a bit boring.
Green papaya salad (with young coconut, thai basil, and peanuts) for $15. This was great and I liked that it had a variety of textures as they mixed in crispy dried noodle pieces as well (at least that’s what they looked like). At first it was really spicy, our server even from a distance noticed multiple red chili pieces in the salad and came over. He explained that he noticed because the salad should not have that much red in it, he insisted on getting us a new one so that we could experience the flavours as they were meant to be. I’m so glad he did this because we wouldn’t have known a mistake had been made, and the dish was a lot more enjoyable once the switch had been made.
The third plate we shared was the Koboucha squash dumplings (with coconut dill lime leaf saucee) for $14. OMG I can not express in words how amazing these were! I literally could have eaten them all night. If you go to Datsun, you absolutely must order these!. They were literally sitting in the sauce, so you could scoop up a generous amount with the dumpling. They were like delicate little clouds with a sweet flavour that just made you feel like you had come home.
I noticed, from other tables, that is seemed any of the dumpling dishes were served on rimmed flat plates sitting in the accompanying sauce. I really appreciate Datsun’s attention to detail, for serving their dumplings this way, because the sauce is one of the best parts. It drives me crazy when restaurants skimp on sauces and Datsun has certainly not done that.
Looking around, I have already decided that next visit, I have to order the BBQ pork lettuce wraps for $18. Multiple tables ordered them and they looked delicious and everyone seemed to be in bliss eating them.
Datsun: 380 Elgin Street