I’m always impressed by tiny, dark little restaurants that make great food.
We make food. If you want pretty decor, head down the street to KFC.
I also didn’t expect a resort city in Vietnam to have a fantastic Indian restaurant, but I guess that’s because I’m a very dimwitted person.
Taj Indian Grill sits on one of the main roads in Vung Tau—Hoang Hoa Tham street—that runs roughly east to west across the peninsula.
It had great reviews on Trip Advisor and I wanted a quick break from Vietnamese food.
Of course, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of:
This is one of the only Indian restaurants within hours of my hotel. I’m going to think it’s good just because there aren’t many other options.
You know, the same reason people think Comcast is a great cable provider.
Joking! Nobody thinks that.
Anyway, this place is supposed to open at 5, so I figured rolling up at 5:30 would be OK. I was met by the owner, an Indian man who didn’t seem to speak English. He gestured that I’d have to wait to order, which was fine—for me, ordering food is an endeavor not to be taken lightly.
I’m sitting there in silence, absorbing the contents of Taj Grill’s menu like a monk in meditation. Except instead of finding enlightenment, I’m finding a way to fill my bottomless gut.
Not long after, the owner’s wife pulled up on her bike and starting shouting obscenities at the Indian guy. Speaking the universal language of the defeated man, he shrugged his shoulders and uttered what I imagine was “I dunno,” and skulked back to the kitchen.
“I just wanna watch the Yankees with Vito and Gus, you ballbuster!”
His wife apologized and asked me what I wanted to eat. I was really thrown off—here’s a Vietnamese woman speaking English with an Indian accent. It was like the old Skittles commercial with the Scottish Koreans.
I settled on chicken korma/kashmiri/I forget…I’m sorry, and paneer naan with an “Indian” coffee.
Do you ever see something out of the corner of your eye, and you aren’t entirely sure if it’s real or not?
While this is possibly a side effect of prolonged isolation from the civilized world, in this case the blurry black “something” turned out to be real.
And in most cases, a fast-moving rat-sized object is usually a rat.
Look, rats don’t faze me anymore. I’ve had one scamper across my bare feet in Saigon before. I’ve possibly shared food from the same shelf as them. It’s fun to watch them fight while sipping coffee (but not as fun to watch them bang).
But when one brushes up against your leg just a hair too slow for comfort, you can’t help but experience a wave of disgust wash over your body like a tidal bore of fleas and disease.
Luckily, this rat was actually a turbo-charged puppy. It was moving too fast for me to get a picture; but suffice it to say, if you’re eating at a dirty restaurant and feel a small, furry animal rush past your feet…it might just be a dog! Maybe.
The food, as it turned out, was pretty damn good. Of course I’m the idiot that ordered hot coffee with spicy curry AND bread fresh out of a 900 degree tandoor. And sat outside.
Indian coffee, by the way, is just coffee with sugar. I just wanted to let you all know that you’ve been drinking Indian coffee your entire lives, and you should feel ashamed for not buying American.
If you’re in the area and need an Indian fix, check out Taj Indian Grill. And don’t worry, it’s just a dog.
Address: 18 Hoàng Hoa Thám, Vũng Tàu
Hours: 10 am to 2 pm, 5 pm to 11 pm (Says 10 am to 11 pm online, but they have a chalkboard with their hours at the restaurant).
Did you ever find an out-of-place gem of a restaurant when your stomach needed it most? Or are you the kind of person who steers clear of the sushi truck sitting on the side of the train tracks at midnight? Let me know in the comments!