Dishes at Mot Hai Ba are a feast for the eyes and tastebuds. (Photo by Kathy Tran)

Dishes at Mot Hai Ba are a feast for the eyes and tastebuds. (Photo by Kathy Tran)

New owner puts an international twist on Vietnamese

Tucked away on Lewis Street, across from a gas station, is one of Lakewood’s hidden gems: Mot Hai Ba.

Serving Vietnamese food with a modern twist, Peja Krstic, who took over as owner about a year ago, has set his sights on modernizing the cuisine.

“We’re not a noodle and ground pork place. We’re putting more effort into these dishes and flavors from Vietnam,” he says. “We try and take original, classic dishes and put them in different form on the plate. It can be more interesting and eye appealing than what you’re used to.”

After opening in 2013, some things have stayed the same, like the small, yet cozy dining area and favorite dishes, including the shaking beef and the pho (which is now served daily). With the new ownership, be on the lookout for change — food and décor-wise.

“We’re turning to plates that are more sharable. We want to give people a better value and a chance to really try the diversity of the flavors we offer,” Krstic says.

Flavor is something he continues to emphasize. Born in Serbia, he was classically trained in French cuisine, knows Mediterranean and has cooked in Italy, all of which influences his cooking. There’s one major difference, though, when you leave Mot Hai Ba after a full dinner.

“You enjoy the flavors without getting stuffed. It’s nice on the palate as well as the stomach,” he says.

The new ownership has not changed the clientele.

“We have so many people from the neighborhood who are regulars and come in daily. But also, people who drive, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from Frisco and McKinney,” Krstic says. “They’re coming in big numbers and then the next time they’ll bring more of their friends.”

While its petite size keeps it “hidden” to some, you can expect a full house on a weeknight and a wait on the weekend, so it’s best to book ahead for one of the 40 coveted seats.

Did you know: Mot Hai Ba’s restaurant space used to house York Street before it closed.

Mot Hai Ba
Hours: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30am-2:30 pm Sunday
Ambiance: Cozy with communal seating
6047 Lewis St.

(Photo by Kathy Tran)

(Photo by Kathy Tran)