Bite Club: Turmeric catfish at Matta's Lil'Dame residency
Initially known for Vietnamese riffs on American fast-food classics — like its fried catfish sandwich with a pandan brioche bun — Matta is trying something new.
- After the food cart closed earlier this summer, owner and chef Richard Văn Lê took up residency at Lil' Dame, the collaborative restaurant space on NE 30th and Killingsworth, to experiment with the concept of farm-to-table food with help from Mora Mora farm.
As a huge fan of Matta, I grabbed three friends and snagged a reservation there last week.
The menu: Fresh veggies and herbs galore. The menu is divided into two sections — the first, dishes to enjoy for fun, like grilled eggplant and crudo, plus dishes served with rice, alá mushroom curry and cilantro pork ribs.
- We ordered nearly everything, but what stood out to me was the Chả Cá Lã Vọng, or turmeric catfish.
The bite: Turmeric can be an overpowering flavor, but in this dish, complemented by fish sauce-based nước chấm, peanuts and a pillowy bed of vermicelli, it hits the perfect, bright note.
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