Today was a sunny day yet quite cool, thanks to the sea breeze. The best thing to do in this nice weather is to hang out with a friend and enjoy German cuisine!
We had an appointment with Mr G, our nice and frank German friend, who is also a food expert. He would like to help us evaluate our favourite German restaurant: Ratinger Löwe, at 32 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street.
The restaurant is named Ratinger Löwe (Lion of Ratingen) because one of the owners was born in the German town of Ratingen, and the town’s crest – which is used by the restaurant – features a lion (Löwe in German).
The restaurant is quite spacious yet cozy with red bricks and soft yellow lighting. The waitresses wear red skirts and white blouses, and swiftly move between tables to serve the customers amid German background music. The ambience is unique yet comfortable.
Our group consisted of six people of whom two were children. We were cold and starving. Our little friends chose Vinh Hao mineral water and two dishes called Captain Nemo (fried breaded fish, mashed potatoes and applesauce, and Asterix & Obelix (French fries, carrots and pork schnitzel). Both dishes were quite tasty, although our little guys seemed to avoid the applesauce.
The adults drank beer and shared starters (pâté, ham, sausages, pickled cucumber and bread), after which we focused on our own orders – spätzle (an egg noodle native to southern Germany and Austria) with pork schnitzel, mashed potatoes with pork schnitzel and carrots, big-size sausages with salad and potatoes, small-size sausages with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), cucumber salad and sauce.
I was most impressed with the sedani rigati which tastes so good and yet is so simple and quick to make. The German friend told me the secret is to boil the pasta just long enough and voilà. I was thinking that if every Vietnamese housewife knew this recipe, then the unhealthy, Tinopal-contaminated rice noodle industry would definitely go bankrupt.
The next two, mouth-watering ingredients were the sausages and the sauerkraut, known as choucroute in France.
The bread, despite being so aromatic and dense, contained no baking powder so it made us feel full longer. “Because of its weight, German bread can sometimes be used as weapon,” the German friend proudly said. The beer also tasted good and was poured into huge glasses.
In Germany, the beer itself (not the foam) should be poured to reach the 0.5-litre indicator marked on the glass. If not, customers have the right to return the beer and, of course, do not have to pay anything. The Germans are sometimes too particular. In Ratinger Löwe, beer is generally poured a little over the 0.5-litre mark.
Food portions, including the kids’ portions, are huge as if they are meant for big Germans.
German cuisine is all about sausages and potatoes – the types of food that help you ‘survive’ the cold weather. Although German cuisine is not exactly number one in the world, it is surprising that Germany has nine three-star Michelin restaurants – the same number as France.
The food we enjoyed at Ratinger Löwe that night was truly marvelous, which was a compliment coming from our groupmates who love to eat delicious food from different countries: France, America, Germany and Vietnam. The only negative point was that the sausages were a bit too dry, though the experienced German chef easily made it up by the rich taste of the food.
We noticed that on each plate, the nutrients such as protein, starch, dietary fibre and fat were all calculated in balanced proportions. Today, when you see fast-food venues anywhere, Ratinger Löwe’s effort to encourage ‘slow food’ and to be an ambassador for German cuisine is deeply appreciated. It makes a unique experience that any traveler should try.
“One of the best German restaurants in Vietnam”, our German friend concluded. Our total cost was 1.650.000 VND for six people including two children. That’s quite reasonable for such high-quality food in such a pleasant dining environment.
Ratinger Löwe. 32 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ham Tien Strip, Phan Thiet (in front of Cham Villas).