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Restaurant Review: Mot Hai Ba in Dallas

Pho with poached chicken. Photography by Kevin Marple)
Pho with poached chicken. Photography by Kevin Marple)

On April 11, 2011, Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare, Dallas chefs and owners of Good 2 Go Taco, left their hotel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi and walked to meet their traveling companions. As they looked at a street map, they turned down an eerily dark alley lined with women in conical straw hats selling eels and snails. They were both still a little jet lagged from the trip and startled by their dining experience the previous evening. A rat had run out of the restaurant’s kitchen and stood up prairie-dog style in the middle of the dining room.

“Nobody moved,” Johnson says. “It’s like he came out to check on the customers.”

But today, the group of five was scheduled to rendezvous at 9 am in front of the motorcycle touring company they’d hired to lead them on a three-and-a-half-week journey through Vietnam. A series of conversations in Dallas months earlier had led them here, discussions centering on what they could do to push themselves out of their comfort zones. They wanted a life-changing expedition that would lessen their fears of taking chances in their careers. To challenge their egos and anxieties, they chose to navigate motorcycles across the mountainous regions of Vietnam.