Co-owner Danielle Dang made a mistake on one of our visits to her restaurant: We ordered an appetizer from her, but our request never made it to the kitchen. And while we insisted that it wasn’t a big deal, she wouldn’t let it go and had the dish packaged so she could present it as a gift with the check. “Come back and tell me what you think,” she said, sending us out into the streets of Pilsen with full hearts and a box of octopus. As much as we can enthuse about the elevated Vietnamese cooking of her husband, Thai Dang, it is Danielle’s warmth that makes you fall in love with HaiSous. That said, there is much on the menu to enthuse about: The Vietnamese flavors are both giddy and gentle. They swerve about as plates pile up: fragrant, smoky bundles of beef wrapped in leaves of la lot (a kind of wild betel) and grilled over a charcoal-fueled clay brazier; a fried whole fluke served with herbs and lettuce leaves for your bundling pleasure; a simple plate of ideally ripe longan and lychee fruits for dessert. Once home, we tore into our octopus, set in a swirl of lush coconut cream, eating it right from the box.
Don’t miss:The crisp-skinned roasted duck ($26) stuffed with kaffir lime leaves.