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Found 31 results

  1. Last week, I got this tweet from Jonathan Copeland: Although I had largely forgotten about it, somewhere in the recesses of my brain, it resided, because I was thirty-minutes early for an appointment in Falls Church today, and - <blink> - I remembered. I didn't remember who sent it, and I didn't remember the name of the restaurant; merely that someone I trusted had mentioned good Banh Mi in Eden Center - I pulled in. I wasn't at all sure which restaurant it was, and there has been *so much* changeover in this shopping center in the past six months that Saigon West is borderline unrecognizable. I waffled a bit, then headed into Banh Ta, and as soon as I walked in, I thought to myself, 'This *must* be the place.' Banh Ta is a tiny little pillbox boutique, just a few stores down from the outstanding Thanh Son Tofu, which has the best tofu I've found in the DC area. Despite being just a counter, it's very upscale looking, with market goods and an atmosphere that reminds me of a smaller version of the incredible Phu Quy Deli Delight. If you haven't been to Thanh Son Tofu or Phu Quy Deli Delight: GO! I ordered a #1, Pork Belly (Bah Mi Thit ??, $4), the ?? being on the sign in the first link in the previous paragraph, and absolutely indecipherable by me and my illiterate Vietnamese (my apologies to native speakers - any guidance will be much appreciated). It's no secret that I haven't exactly been blown away by DC-area Banh Mi - in fact, the only ones I've had that I even consider "good" have been somewhat Americanized (Dickson Wine Bar and the underrated and under-appreciated Ba Bay). Until today, that is. Thanks to Jonathan's recommendation, I've now had what I believe to be the first authentic Banh Mi that I can say, with my European-influenced palate, and with an absolutely clear conscience, is *really, really good*! You don't even need a second one to fill up on, as the size is ample, so both qualitatively and quantitatively, we have ourselves a front runner in the local Banh Mi wars - you could say, if you valued bad puns more than honorable use of language, that this Banh Mi, won me. These three storefronts in Eden Center are less than 100 yards away from each other, and justify a special excursion to experience. I am - *finally* - sold on the merits of this sandwich, and I suspect that in Vietnam, it gets even better than this. Absolutely initialized in Italic in the East Falls Church section of the Virginia Dining Guide, and I'm very much looking forward to a repeat visit, thanks to the recommendation of Jonathan Copeland.
  2. Did not see a thread on this new addition to the Eden Center. Went there yesterday for lunch with a group of Chowhounders. We had a delicious meal with a ton of food. We ordered: Grilled shrimp and pork skewers with steamed vermicelli Whole crispy flounder with mango salad and ginger sauce Baby clams baked in clay pot with rice Grilled pork chop and sweet Chinese sausage on broken rice Marinated quails Garden rolls (called steam rice paper rolls on the menu) Baby clams with pork served with rice cracker My favorites were the whole fish, which was a huge, but really good dish. I lived the difference between the crispy, flaky fish and the tangy, sour salad. It was really nice. I also really liked the broken rice dish, the sausage and pork chops on it were marinated well and really tasty. The baked clams in the clay pot were preferable to the rice cracker ones, I think a bit moister, or maybe it was just the sauce with the salty clams and crispy rice. The shrimp were also good. All in all there weren't any misses, although the garden rolls could be skipped they were fine, but normal. It is a very pretty little space, and we really enjoyed the food. It was also nice to hang out with some very nice and cool people from this area with such great food knowledge, always a plus. I know some are on here too, and it is always so nice to put a face with a name.
  3. I'm on a mission to eat at every restaurant in Eden Center. Today I went to Hai Duong, which according to Eden Center's website and Tyler Cowen, specializes in - Sizzling Fish Filet in Northern Style. I don't know if this is the same as Cha Ca La Vong or just something very similar. In this case, I was given a purplish sauce (I believe it's shrimp paste), peanuts, sliced onions, a plate of herbs (minty smelling), lettuce, rice noodle and then a sesame rice cracker. A little later a sizzling fish filet with lots of dill showed up. With Cha Ca La Vong, all the herbs are cooked tableside along with the fish. In this case, I wasn't quite sure what to do. I wrapped some noodles, herbs, fish and dill in lettuce, and dipped the whole thing into the shrimp paste. It was really good. The fish was moist and flavorful. I even liked their shrimp paste (I thought the version at Present was kinda gross). Tyler Cowen says to put everything on top of the cracker. I saw some older ladies eating them like lettuce wraps - so I went with that. I would love some tips on how to eat this. I probably should've asked my waiter.
  4. So, how big is Little Sheep Hot Pot? Big. In fact, *really* big. It was really big five years ago. Based in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China, Little Sheep Group posted 2 percent of all Chinese dining-out expenses in 2010. Think about that for a second. And then, it got *REALLY* big. In 2011, Little Sheep Group was sold to the massive, $10+ billion Yum! Brands, Inc. (the owners of Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc.) for $587 million, and it's now a wholly-owned subsidiary - they recently opened their first Little Sheep Hot Pot in Eden Center. Ironically, you'd *never* know it was a giga-chain. This restaurant is somethng like Mala Tang, except it has big, *big* money behind it. It's well-organized, family-friendly, and is designed for groups (definitely not the solo diner; unless you want a lot of leftovers). Ordering involves a simple, 5-step checklist, where you check off your broth, your meat, your seafood, your vegetables, and your starch - whichever ones you want. The broth is $2.95, and the extras are what cost the money. I *strongly* advise going with the "original" or the "Yin and Yang"; not the "Spicy" - it's too much. I got the Yin and Yang ($2.95), and for my meat, ordered the Dry-Aged Spring Lamb ($8.95). Tong Ho (a massive pot of Chrysanthemum Blossoms, $4), and Fresh, Thick Noodle ($4). Since it's their soft opening, they threw in a generous little plate of Fatty Steak (Gratis). Considering I made a quick decision, I was very happy with everything I ordered, but you can do even better if you look at the menu before you go, and add even more vegetables - maybe some large mushrooms, taro root, and the like. It's the meats and seafood which will really set you back; not the vegetables. My hot pot, including tax (but not tip) was $23.05, and it could have *easily* fed two people, with leftover broth - one person gets the same amount of broth as four people. That amount also included a Diet Coke with unlimited refills. All the meats seem to be frozen, and the non-seafood in particular are those thin, Steak-Umm-like things - the real treasure here lies in the vegetables. You definitely want some starch (noodles, potatoes, etc.) to thicken the broth as it reduces. The base broth seems to contain every kind of pod, twig, root, spice, nut, and berry known to mankind (the picture below is of the broth before I put a single thing in it - you can *easily* see that unless you're a bonafide chili-head, you don't want the entire thing to be spicy). Here are some pictures to give you a better idea of what to expect. Do not let the "chain" aspect of this throw you off - it's perfectly fine hot pot, and it was packed this afternoon for a late lunch on President's Day.
  5. I ventured into Eden Center and promised myself to try a couple of small places inside the Eden Center. Hai Ky Mi Gia specializes in soup noodle. You get a choice of toppings (shrimp, mixed seafood, roast duck, roast quail, or pork), shrimp cracker, Chinese chives, tiny bits of rendered pork fat, and lettuce over yellow noodle or rice noodle, with the soup either laddle on top of the noodles or served on the side. The usual condiments of bean sprouts, hot sauce, and lime are available on the side. The result is a bowl of delicious warm Vietnamese Ramen that costs around $7.50. Nha Trang specialized in Nem Nuong Nihn Hoa ($7 for 4 rolls), these are summer rolls with lettuce, mint, grilled pork sausage, and crispy fried wonton wrapper served with a strange sauce that I can't decipher (bits of garlic, pork, and peanut in a sweet sauce).
  6. I stopped going to Eden Center on a daily basis for lunch because the trips were putting too many miles on my leased car (13 miles round trip). Because it's been at least a month since I last went, I walked around to see what's new. I think there are 2 new joints just in Saigon East (the section in btwn the 2 grocery stores). Bay Lo is no more. And in place of H2O is Hoa Vien Quan. Hoa Vien Quan is brightly lit, shiny, and clean. The menu is one laminated page but with a ton of stuff that's not very well organized - several items don't belong under the headings. I tried their cha gio (spring rolls) and banh xeo. Both are excellent, especially because they give you the proper accompaniments. The spring rolls came with 2 pieces of lettuce, basil and pickled carrots. The banh xeo came with 4 pieces of lettuce, lots of herbs, and pickled carrots. I wrapped everything in lettuce and dipped in their fish sauce. I would have to go back to Eden to try more of their food (as I said, big menu).
  7. Desperately need the expertise of this group. I am taking a handful of newbies to Eden Center for a roaming dinner. Where should we go and what do we order? Banh Xeo at Rice Paper will happen, but what else? HELP!!
  8. Tucked away in the corner is this small restaurant (which accepts credits cards) that serves some unique stuff (various offal, hot pots, seafood, etc.), although it is not clear what the prices are. Interested people must inquire, although they don't seem to speak much English. I ordered some spring rolls and bun cha hanoi (it's #8 on their menu, called bun cha bay lo). Bun cha hanoi are grilled pork, pork patties, and fish served in a bowl of hot fish sauce, accompanied by sides of herbs and rice noodles. One can dip the noodles and herbs in the bowl of fish sauce and eat it with some of the meat, or you can dump some noodles and herbs in another bowl, spoon some fish sauce and meat on top of the noodles/herbs and eat it. I did the latter. You are eating the herbs more or less raw since the fish sauce isn't hot enough like a bowl of pho to cook the herbs. This is certainly a different experience. With the spring rolls, it was $12 (after tax but no tip).
  9. I went to check out the Thai street food shop in Saigon West, just down the corridor from Pho Hai Duong. It's a small space, operated by 2 individuals (one front, one kitchen). There are 4 tables and some counter space. Their website is Kaosarnthai.com. They were playing some mellow downtempo lounge music when I was there. The only thing I ordered is their beef floating market boat noodle soup. It was a very pretty dish but it didn't taste as good as it looked. The pork rinds were stale, the soup was not only not spicy, but pretty bland (compared to Nava Thai, iThai (in Tysons), and Sisters Thai (Mosaic)). They topped with noodles with some rare slices of beef (like Pho) which were also bland. The credit card minimum is $15, so I had to spring some straight cash. And I incurred a dry cleaning bill after somehow getting soup on my pants.
  10. Huong Viet is better than Four Sisters, you wouldn't be going for the service or the atmosphere. It's divey but delicious. Love the lotus root salad with pork and shrimp, their caramel fish and some of the noodle soups.
  11. A visit to Nhu Lan, which is hidden among the innards of the shopping center revealed a just okay banh mi, in my opinion. It was warm, and the pate was solid. But I don't get why all these places use the same crappy sub rolls from the school cafeteria. They're way too wide and you end up having to move the filling around or take multiple bites across to get at at all the flavors. Narrower, more caramelized bread is the way to go. Given how large a proportion of the sandwich is bread, it should be taken more into consideration.
  12. On a whim, my friend and I stopped into Phu Quy Deli Delight yesterday, and were pretty well blown away by what we found. It's a bulk-food only (think: dispensers at Whole Foods), 1/4-pound minimum little store with the most amazing selection of beef jerky I've ever seen: eighteen (yes, 18) different types. $20 later, I got to sample three 1/4-pound orders of the most remarkable dehydrated items: okra, mushrooms, and cranberries. While the cranberries were a sentimental favorite due to their sweetness, the mushrooms were perhaps the most remarkable, looking exactly like ... mushrooms, but having the consistency of crackers. Equally impressive was the okra which, while completely dry, still had the impression of that viscous, boiled-okra, mucous trait, whispering in the background. If you haven't tried this, you must. It's in the same building as Seaside Crab House, across from Pho & Exotic Fruit. On a side note, I had dinner at Nha Trang last night, and am happy to report that, despite the bad news about the matriarch, two of the exact dishes I had before were just as good, and the restaurant remains in Italic in the Dining Guide. The service is a bit "casual," and French-influenced in that you have to call the staff over if you want something, but if you know that going in, you won't mind.
  13. Zora, I just had a #10 ($3.75) at the replacement for Song Que - it wasn't quite the same, featuring huge pieces of raw white onion and raw jalapeí±o. That said, it probably had the best baguette of any banh mi I've had in the immediate area, so all is not lost - I picked off the onion and jalapeí±o and enjoyed it very much. As silly as it might sound, I didn't even get the restaurant's name, but it has the same structure and format. However, my beloved coconut water (the best I've ever had that wasn't ultra-fresh or didn't cost more than $10) was ... gone from the refrigerator case! I suspect a lot of the previous workers are remaining here, so it hasn't changed as much as you might think, yet.
  14. The other day, I tried the meatball (xiu mai) banh mi at Kim Phung bakery. I usually get my baguettes there but they give me the stink eye when I just buy a couple of baguettes. Verdict: not bad. The meatballs tasted okay but they were cold. They put the meatballs in the baguette and then into the toaster oven for a while. Then they add the veggies and sauce. However that just warms up the bread, but the meatballs are still cold. When I got home, I took the meatballs out and microwaved them and put them back in the sandwich. Much better that way. I really like their baguettes. Some other banh mi places use what seems to be supermarket sub rolls.
  15. Eden Center's Facebook page was promoting this restaurant with 7 menu items (no appetizers), claiming it received rave Yelp reviews for its Pho and Bun Bo Hue. Yes, there were 2 Yelp reviews and both were glowing. So I went to check our their Bun Bo Hue. It came with a big plate of herbs, which is a good sign. They seem to use a different type of sliced sausage, so that could've been made in house. The broth was pretty tasty. I didn't think it was necessarily better than Rice Paper or Pho Hai Duong but for people who want to try something new, this place is worth checking. Strangely, they accept credit card but didn't let me tip on the cc slip. There's no tip line. So I left some cash.
  16. And Todd Kliman agrees with you about Tay Do. He mentions it in today's chat as having the best Pho currently.
  17. Friends and I went to Eden Kitchen this past Friday night. The portions were nicely-sized for the price, but found the taste was along the lines of some of the heavier-handed kitchens in Eden Center. I guess I'm spoiled by Rice Paper. They have a very extensive menu, which is nice. Little man seemed to enjoy his pho and egg rolls.
  18. I found out about Bambu on yelp, actually, when I was looking for pho places this past weekend. Since it was a few doors down from Rice Paper and kiddie-corner from Song Que, I thought it was a good time to try. The shop is small, with very minimal seating (a few chairs and benches). The interior is much like a frozen yogurt shop but more zen-like. It just has chè, cold and hot coffee/coffee-based drinks, and smoothies here, which was a great way to end a meal. I got a green bean, grass jelly, coconut milk chè ($4) and it was good, but a tad on the sweet side for me. I would definitely come back to try the other options.
  19. I went to Kobe Pho and had just that, chin. It was good but not great. The meat was nice and fatty but the broth was bland in my opinion. Spring rolls were good and interesting...appeared to have a hotdog in them and something crunchy. My son said "it's very red". We won't be back...even a 4 yr old knows good from bland pho.
  20. Good Fortune opened today, and is now the largest international supermarket in Northern Virginia at 44,000 square feet - perhaps this is the shot in the arm that Eden Center needs (and it needs one badly).
  21. Phung Hoang is a hole in the wall with a small menu but it has some pictures on the menu! I think the specialty here is bun bo hue but their picture of a duck salad caught my eye. It looks like kind of like this. The duck was poached and doesn't have alot of flavor. The salad is a bunch of shredded veggies, of which I think I only identified carrots. Maybe there's some cabbage and papaya in there. Everything is dressed in a fish sauce based dressing and there's an additional bowl of sauce for you. A small order was about $12 but there's a decent amount of duck in there. As typical, a very limited menu, cash only, and no English guidance.
  22. Went to Viet Star for lunch on Friday. The place is more upscale compared to the other restaurants in Eden Center, and it has a large selection of seafood on its menu. We ordered 3 dishs - Cha Ca Thang Long, Tamarind Crabs, and a grilled clam platter. The waiter took our order on some kind of tablet without any feedback (like confirming what we ordered). The first to com out was the fish, without rice cracker, or any sauce (shrimp paste or fish sauce). I had to ask for bowls to mix everything in and they gave each of us a typical rice bowl. The fish was tasty but there wasn't any dill that I could see on the fish. The lettuce, herbs, and bun (noodles) served on another plate was plentiful. I would not order the Cha Ca here again because I think Hai Duong does this dish much better. The second dish to arrive were softshell crabs. Were these the tamarind crabs or something else? The seasoning tasted like salt and pepper crabs, not tamarind. In any case, it was quite good. The crabs were cut into pieces and there were lots of them on the plate, so I'm guessing at least 2 if not 3 crabs. More than half way through our first two dishes, we were told there were no clams. That sucked. I had a $30 certificate and now we didn't get $30 worth of food. We weren't hungry after two dishes so we didn't order anything else. I think this place doubles as a night club in the evening. Whether the food and service will improve or go downhill...I dunno. P.S., other than Pho Bien (which I've never seen open for lunch), I've ate at every restaurant in Eden Center. I will continue to explore those restaurants that accept credits cards, which aren't alot so that makes it easier on me.
  23. I must say that I absolutely love going to Eden Center for lunch. It's such an adventure and I can do it every day, or almost every day. Today I visited the last restaurant that I haven't tried in Saigon East. It's a place called Nha Trang, and it's listed as a cafe under Eden's website. The menu sure doesn't look like a cafe, but they do cater to drinkers. I was greeted by a teenager and given a menu. She is Vietnamese but speaks perfect English (unfortunately she wasn't very helpful, as explained below). I was intrigued by the last page of the menu (attached) notwithstanding the seemingly hefty pricing. I wanted to try the fried crabs so I asked if they were available. The waitress informs me that she has to check with her grandma. She comes back and says no crabs. So I asked if there are clams available. She checks with grandma and they confirm there are clams. So I order a bun bo hue and some clams. My waitress tells me that clams are usually ordered by people who come to drink at night, not wondering lawyers on their lunch break. So a little later, her father comes by to ask how would I like the clams. I'm a little confused, because I didn't notice they have two clam dishes - a hot pot (#72), and fresh clams (#75) which doesn't specify how they're cooked. I was thinking clams with black bean sauce or grilled clams like the ones I had at Seaside Crab House. He suggested that I try the steamed clams. I said whatever, just bring it on. There was also some confusion as to whether I wanted bun bo hue or clams. I said both. First my waitress brings me a bowl of noodles which has a clear broth and fish in it. I point it out to her that's not bun bo hue, and she looks at me and says it is in fact bun bo hue. Then she changes her mind, and takes the bowl to another table. She then brings me the bun bo hue but not the herbs. I was kind of disappointed but then she did bring out the herbs. Ultimately she got things right and it was a good bowl of noodle soup. Then they set up the clams. Apparently it's cooked table side. The clams and broth came out cold, but it was set on a burner and fired up while I ate my noodles. The clams are huge - not little necks like I thought they would be. I think there were 16 to 20 clams in that hot pot. There were two sauces, a fish sauce/hot sauce concoction and a bowl of salt/pepper with some liquid. The weirdest thing is that after I ate the clams, I poured some stock into a bowl with hot sauce and it was sweet! I did enjoy the clams, which was steamed with lots of herbs, which I think included lemongrass and ginger. The place was pretty crowded for weekday lunch. They accept credit cards.
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