Good Food: Ngoc Lan

In a previous post I ranted against a local "Subways" shop as a prime example for bad food in Darmstadt. I want to share an example for good food today.

Asian restaurants are often laden with kitschy decoration and the menu is mainstreamed to comfort the local taste. Also you have the same dishes with only small variations everywhere. Traditional style cooking is rarely found anywhere.

A very nice example of stylish interior and excellent cooking is the "Ngoc Lan", small Vietnamese restaurant located a bit outside the city centre. You find it at the corner of Bismarkstraße and Steubenplatz, see the map embedded below.

Größere Kartenansicht

We come here once every while and the quality of the food is always great. The cooking is very traditional compared to the standard issue Asia Kim or Dong Dong in more prominent areas of the town. Well cooked, spicy and with fresh herbs, the menu lists many unique meals very different from the usual "fried noodles with chicken/pork/beef". A selection of well mixed, fruity Cocktails can be had as well.

The single room is bright and nicely decorated, calm in minimalist way but not frugal. Go there after dark to experience the full effect of the lighting. There is parking space behind the restaurant, about 15 places in the lot. No need to make a reservation, in fact we never found more than a couple of tables occupied whenever we came there. Which is a pity, because it means it won't stay open for much longer. So go there and enjoy before the place closes for good.


Pockets Picked in Paris

Apart from the obvious Pun, this is what unfortunately happened to me a few days ago. I was buying some snack before entering the train back home at Paris Gare de l'Est and was probably spotted tucking my wallet away. I put it in an outside jacket pocket, a circumstance that immediately retaliated itself as I stood waiting by the platform for my colleagues to arrive.

I was approached by an Asian looking women of middle age and asked for the train to Basel. It struck me odd to be asked for this for my obviously tourist look (after all I was carrying a backpack and a camera bag) but not odd enough to raise my suspicion. While talking to the woman, which took a good amount of time I felt something brush my backpack but again it did not alarm me enough to make me look around. I think I was set up with a classic distraction manoeuvre to give the thief opportunity to pick the wallet from my pocket. It can not have taken him/her more than a couple of seconds despite the pocket being zipped shut.

I did not notice the loss before the conductor asked for my ticket, a good while after the train left the station. I was baffled, but quickly recovered and phoned the emergency hotline of my bank to have the banking and credit cards suspended, avoiding additional financial losses apart from some cash that was in my wallet.

Still, I've now lost my ID, drivers license, credit and banking cards and a couple of other documents that can all be replaced, still there is a significant amount of time and money to be spent now to have them all back. Definitely gives you a sour taste being ripped off like this.

What to learn from this? Crowded places should keep you alert. Strangers approaching you should make you look around for other strangers standing close. Wallets should not be kept in outward pockets. Documents should be kept apart from the money to limit the damage and the amount of time to spend recovering from the loss.