Food News

Mot Hai Ba in Victory Park Closes for Good

Street-style duck breast with greens at Mot Hai Ba.
Street-style duck breast with greens at Mot Hai Ba. Kathy Tran
Our food critic Brian Reinhart learned Wednesday morning that Mot Hai Bai in Victory Plaza is no longer taking reservations. According to their OpenTable account, they have closed for good.

It is with heavy hearts that we have made the decision to close our Victory Park location permanently. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you. We appreciate the support that has been shown to us, and look forward to seeing you at our original Lakewood location in the near future.

Mot Hai Ba first opened as a small Vietnamese restaurant on Lewis Street in Lakewood almost a decade ago, and from the start, it was an East Dallas gem. When this second outpost opened last summer in Victory Park near the American Airlines Center, amid a pandemic, former Observer food editor Taylor Adams warned diners that if they were looking for a duplicate of the original they might be disappointed. Music was louder and the cocktail list was tweaked to appeal to concert- or sport-going crowds.

"Again, the vibe is different here," Adams wrote at the time. "If you’re driving from East Dallas expecting the same little, intimate restaurant we’ve grown accustomed to as our neighborhood spot, you may be disappointed. It’s not bad, it’s not lesser than, it’s not more than, it’s just different. And it works."
click to enlarge All was dark at Mot Hai Ba in Victory Park Thursday evening. - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
All was dark at Mot Hai Ba in Victory Park Thursday evening.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Then troubles tumbled their way. The pandemic took a severe toll in Victory Park, a neighborhood best known for live events. The location temporarily closed for a few months over the winter when traffic was at its lowest, then reopened this summer as events returned and patios filled with guests.

Adding to the troubles, chef-owner Peja Krstic lost support from Asian American diners after reports that he had gotten into fights, both online and in person, with community members. Donny Sirisavath, owner of Khao Noodle Shop, described a “shoving match” at a bar in which Krstic called Sirisavath an “Asian piece of shit” and Khao employees “bitch workers.”

Tiffany Tran, a longtime Mot Hai Ba regular, corrected a spelling error on the restaurant’s Instagram feed and provoked a backlash from Krstic, who she says at one point called her boyfriend in an attempt to silence her.

While the original Mot Hai Ba has a 4.4 (out of five) star rating on Google Maps, the Victory Park location has just 2.8 stars, with most of the negative comments coming from the time of the controversy. More recent reviews are full of high praise.

In June, Krstic told D Magazine that he was overhauling the decor and menu at the original Lakewood location, in what the magazine’s dining critic, Eve Hill-Agnus, called a “reboot.” With the benefit of hindsight, one remark Krstic made in that interview seems eerily accurate: “Now it’s time to just go back to Lakewood. It’s time for Lassie to go home.”
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.
Brian Reinhart has been the Dallas Observer's food critic since spring 2016. In addition, he writes baseball analysis for the Hardball Times and covers classical music for the Observer and MusicWeb International.
Contact: Brian Reinhart