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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).

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A late-night snack at Viet Bistro (open until midnight on weekends) wouldn't be enough to bring me back. Đậu Hũ Um Tộ Chay ($11.50), a vegetarian clay pot with tofu, was pretty dull, with the tofu overfried and soggy, and most of the flavor in the starchy vegetables coming from a shaker.

My only other recent late-night experience in Eden Center was at Tay Do, where I had much better luck with my entree (but not with the band, which was belting out stunningly cheesy songs).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Did a mini food safari to the Eden Center this past weekend.
I did a little research on Tyler Cowen's guide and other online sources to pick out a few places to try, and set a limit of trying one dish per place.

First went to Banh Cuốn Thang Long to try their name dish, the #1. Banh Cuốn consist of sheets of rice paper folded and filled with various items like pork, dried shrimp, and fried onion. The plate came with sprouts, Viet-style pork "bologna" and fried shrimp cakes, and we proceeded to grab items off it and dipping them in fish sauce with chile sauce before eating them.

Second stop was Tay Do. We ordered the Bun Cha Hanoi. Out came a plate of rice vermicelli, sprouts, and veggies, and a bowl of grilled pork, pork meatballs and shrimp. We mixed up everything in a small bowl and ate it. The sauce that the meat came in was delicious on the noodles.

Last stop was Banh Cuốn Saigon where we ate the Bun rieu cua, kind of like a pho noodle soup, but the broth was made with shrimp and tomatos. Really delicious.

Planning another safari in a few weeks I think.

Banh Cuốn Thang Long
6737 Wilson Boulevard, #22

Tay Do
6793-C Wilson Blvd.

Banh Cuốn Saigon
6795 Wilson Blvd.#54

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Started out at the Crab House with a conch salad (never been a fan of conch although this one was at least tender), soft shell crabs (a little dense on the breading I think - not pictured since we devoured them immediately) and grill clams (nice fat juicy clams grilled to perfection). Oh and a couple of pitchers of cold Heineken.

We then went into an inner corridor where there are two take-out places across the hallway from one another - along with several bars populated by men. We got a fried whole fish (the picture is of it chopped up - it was cold by the time we got to it so not the best way to have fish) and Kmango got us a tub of little fishes (Chinese people eat these dried).

We also picked up some fried tofu, I believe there were actually 3 kinds (plain, ginger & mushroom?) I personally prefer my fried tofu stinky.

We hit two banh mi joints and ordered 6 fish sausage sandwiches at the first place (by accident) and then a combo, a shredded pork & skin, and a pate sandwich (the fish sandwiches at Banh Mi So #1, the others at Song Que - the bread at #1 is longer and fresher tasting).

Finally we picked up some spring rolls (50 cents a piece), sausage pastry, rice crepe, and rice cakes.

There is so much left to sample that we have to go again...and again.

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The fish - after I chopped it up.

Things to bring - break knife and cutting board (to divvy up sammiches), a knife to cut other things, and paper towels. Next time I'll probably ask people to bring their own bowl for noodle soup sampling.

I thank the other participants for indulging me and Van for leading the way. For others who want to do this, a small group is best. The Crab House is a good place to meet up and quench your thirst. We picked up food along the way and then ate at Song Que, where they have tables in the back. If you find a place that serves adult beverages and have tables...please advise!

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Just wanted to note that I have been eating the leftover bahn mi with fish sausage. I doubled the meat on one so I could put pate on the roll with accompaniments. I will just comment that the little bahn mi place by the Crab House has wonderful bread, and even a couple days later the sandwiches have been really tasty after a short stint in the office toaster oven.

I really liked the grilled clams at the Seaside Crab House they had good briny flavor. I also particularly liked the mushroom fried tofu, rice crepes and conch salad (which had good balance between spicy heat, coolness of the salad and the different textures). The spring rolls were really good too, had more flavor than some that you get elsewhere.

Anyway was a nice time looking forward to going back and exploring more.

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To add to ktmoomau and Ericandblueboy's post about this past Sunday...

I think I am finally ready to eat again after that excessively delicious feast. Standout impressions for me included:

*The covered patio seating at Seaside, what a boon it was not already packed. Poor weather earlier in the day probably delivered this fortune. Note to self: Talk to Vietnamese family-in-law about the possibility of someone installing a webcam at Eden Center so I can regularly check to see if the patio is already crowded. That would be ngot (sweet)!

*Seaside's grilled clams won on all flavor and plating points. The conch salad, for me, a close second with bright acidity, artfully julienned celery, and ideal spicy punch. Fresh and refreshing, simple and simply outstanding.

*The numerous hide-a-ways tucked into the complex. I've been hitting Eden Center for years, yet we ventured to an entire row of shops I never knew were there. And we only toured one side of the complex; additional visits would reveal more.

*How crowded the karaoke bars were at 2PM on a Sunday. Smoke wafting out on waves of oontz oontz oontz, those cafes must be hopping all the time. Looked hella fun.

*Logistically, a group of six or less is the only way to do this kind of tour. Any larger, tables and navigation between tightly packed isles would not work.

A few iPhone snapshots attached. Mad props to Ericandblueboy for organizing, and to V.H. for the deft dialogue and group shepherding. Another experience that goes to show that what's in our backyard is sometimes as far as we need to go for global adventure.

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I had a great time meeting everyone and eating on our little Eden Center eating expedition. I agree that our small group worked really well for the progressive meal approach. I'm glad to hear that Banh Mi So 1's sandwiches held up well. I'm a big fan of getting them plain and stuffing with pate at home as well. They are also amazing spread with some salted Kerrygold butter and filled with slices of salami.

We came back from an overnight trip today and stopped at Eden Center for dinner takeout. On my mother's recommendation, I got bbq takeout from the place in the front window of Cho Saigon, the grocery store that faces you if you enter through the main entry to Eden Center and drive straight back. I got a pound each of the roast pork with crispy skin and the Xa Xiu pork (also known as chinese Char Siu pork) as well as a container of marinated carrot and daikon radish pickles. I normally get my Vietnamese bbq from the place in the interior corridor but Cho Saigon's was far superior tonight. Both kinds of pork were moist and tender. I tend not to get takeout Xa Xiu because it can sometimes be a little dry but this was perfect. The shredded pickles were served as a light little slaw to accompany our meat and rice.

They have a little hand written sign in front of the cash register by the bbq area with prices. The two roast porks were $11 a pound each and they'll ask you if you want it chopped or whole. Don't be shy about pointing to the portion of the pig you want your meat cut from. They also had four or five roast pork heads available for $5 a piece for those who are into that kind of thing.

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We did another Eden Center mini food safari last weekend.

I had the roast pig at Cho Cu Saigon (make sure it's the pig you order, it's the one with the thick skin)

We also really liked the Cha gio here- thin crispy skin.

Then we hopped around the corner for the No.1 Banh Mi at Nhu Lan Sandwich shop. I read that this is Sietsema's favorite. The place smelled like stinky tofu, but the bread on the banh mi was outstanding, chewy, crusty.

We finished off with Thang Tong, where we had the Banh Xeo- the Vietnamese crepe- loaded with shrimp, pork, mung bean and bean sprouts.

pics

Cho Cu Saigon

6763 Wilson Blvd

Ste 6D

Nhu Lan Sandwich Shop

6763 Wilson Boulevard

Thanh Tong

6795 Wilson Boulevard

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Eden Center is a mess right now - it looks like Detroit, with lots of closed shops, new places trying to open, and their anchor (which used to be an Ames, way back in 2000) in the midst of heavy-duty construction.

But that anchor - which has been in short-term-lease limbo for 13 years - is soon to be a Good Fortune, a 44,000-square-foot supermarket, and I predict that this is exactly what Eden Center needs to stabilize it so that the small mom-n-pops can survive and thrive. Good Fortune is coming to Eden Center, and it won't be long.

On the other hand, if you think driving in that parking lot is dangerous NOW ...

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Here is their website - I'm no urban planner, but I really think this is going to revitalize everything, and not a moment too soon.

On a tangential note, I recently drove through the Ghost of Landover Mall. Wow. It's like driving your Mars Rover across the rubble of the red planet, with a senescent Sears Auto Center surviving somewhere in the cacophony of cracked concrete. God damn I'm a good writer.

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I was at Eden Center today and found two restaurant openings:

Viet Garden

6763 Wilson Blvd #A  (near the grocery store and inside the "mall")

Grand Opening was Sept. 21, 2013 according to the sign (picture taken today):

Eden Kitchen

6793-C Wilson Blvd

This Nov. 26, 2013 Northern Virginia article "Pho Factory Owner to Open Eden Kitchen" said they were hoping to open in early December.

Although their sign (picture also taken today) says Opening October 2013, I asked when they opened, and a staff person told me they opened a week ago.

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On a tangential note, I recently drove through the Ghost of Landover Mall. Wow. It's like driving your Mars Rover across the rubble of the red planet, with a senescent Sears Auto Center surviving somewhere in the cacophony of cracked concrete. God damn I'm a good writer.

Landmark Mall in Alexandria?  Because that place really has become a dump.  Inside is much worse than the parking lot.  I remember they turned it from a strip mall to an enclosed mall about the same time I moved up to the area.  Now the plan is to make it into a town center shopping style area, which doesn't seem any more promising than what's there now.  It would be better served turning into a middle eastern & african  centric center, similar to Eden Center to make it a draw again.

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Landmark Mall in Alexandria?  Because that place really has become a dump.  Inside is much worse than the parking lot.  I remember they turned it from a strip mall to an enclosed mall about the same time I moved up to the area.  Now the plan is to make it into a town center shopping style area, which doesn't seem any more promising than what's there now.  It would be better served turning into a middle eastern & african  centric center, similar to Eden Center to make it a draw again.

Landmark Mall is a complete dump, but *nothing* compared to Landover mall in Landover, Maryland.

(Does anyone remember "Hop in the buggy and *drive* her to *I*verson Mall?")

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Have a cance to swing by and, while I have some favorites, none specialize in Bahn Mi or Pho, which I think we'll be hunting for.  Doesn't have to be specifically a Pho joint.  In fact, a place that serves food other stuff plus Pho would be perfect.Love to hear your favorites.

PS: No option to go anywhere else, so those suggestions will be filed away for the moment.

Grazie.

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I went to Huong Viet a few weeks ago and wrote a post about it. They have pho, but I have not had the pho there. The bun bo hue is first rate and I also enjoyed the com tam bi suong cha. I saw other tables eating some bun dishes (bun thit nuong or bun bo nuong sa) and banh hoi. Cash only.

There is a pho only spot, Pho Xe Lua, which is good but not great. In one of the indoor shops you can grab banh mi from Nhu Lan. I bought six sandwiches (all of them #1) to go after my meal at Huong Viet and enjoyed them very much.

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I had some Pho Ga about a month ago at Rice Paper that I really enjoyed, the broth had a really nice flavor profile to it.  They have other dishes that are really good too.  I think there is a thread on Rice Paper.  I haven't had any of their other Pho as I normally go for other things, but I was in the last stages of getting over a cold that day and it was just perfect.

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I would go Song Que (if it's still open, and it may not be) and Banh Mi So #1, in that order, and then listen to Katelin about Rice Paper's pho - there are no good Pho houses in Eden Center, amazingly, at least none that I've found.

This shopping center is at a low point, but I'm guessing that once they fill their anchor space, it will be hopping within two years.

If you haven't been yet, buy some homemade beef jerky at Phu Qui Deli Delight in the same shopping center as Sea Side Crab House - it's remarkable, with probably fifty different things you've never seen before - all dried. And also get some homemade tofu at Thanh Son Tofu, just a one-minute walk away from it - I have a strong preference for the mushroom over the lemongrass, at least for eating by itself - for cooking, the lemongrass may well work better with certain recipes.

Both of these are to-go only and are stores, not restaurants.

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I like their stuff too, but it's not homemade. The owner told me that it's all shipped in from California. (Caveat: this was 9 to 12 months ago, and things might have changed in the meantime.)

No, you're right, of course it's not homemade. It would be absolutely impossible to make all that from scratch.

"Well-purchased" is the term I should have used. :)

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It was.  I don't do commercial real estate so not as familiar with it, but it seemed a pretty tricky situation for all.  The appeal of the place is the history and that so much is one place so it wouldn't be easy to walk away from, and I am not sure what the penalties for breaking the lease would be.  But I could also see why a mass walk from the individuals involved would aid them.  That parking lot is awful.  And from the article yeesh...  This all sounds like a mess.

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I'm not an attorney but I practised real estate as a commercial broker, did a lot of leases, and have operated businesses.   A lot of lease language and verbiage covers small and big issues.   The business wants reasonable protections in the lease.

If the leases state that Florida laws and Florida courts rule than that is a "killer clause" that puts hardships on the smbs.   If big issues arise and it goes to court you have to fight in Florida.  That means you hire attorneys from far away, you can't meet with them, and you have to spend a lot of time and money going back and forth to Florida...on really big issues.

Its enormously costly.  For small businesses time is often worth more than money.   That single clause puts enormous hardship on the tenants.  It gives the landlord the ability to do whatever he/she wants with few probable legal impediments.   If there were big national chains in the space the situation might be different as the big chains could handle that legal situation more easily.  Not small independents.

It doesn't bode well for tenants IMHO.

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We wound up at Huong Viet, and it was fine.  Nothing spectacular, but everyone seemed to enjoy their meal.  I got a noodle dish off the "chef's special" or equivalent portion of the menu with a variety of meats and grilled pieces of tofu and egg.  It was tasty.  The table loved the quail, which I'd enjoyed on earlier visits but didn't get a piece of this time.  Our four year old enjoyed his spring rolls.  :)

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If one were in the general vicinity of Eden center and needed a quick pick-me-up (say an order of summer rolls) rather than a full lunch, and if one were generally a little leery of Vietnamese cuisine but wanting to try it again, where should one go?

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Thank you both for suggesting Rice Paper.  I got an order of shrimp and pork garden rolls with peanut sauce, and an order of rice paper rolls with Vietnamese pork and special sauce.  Both were delicious and exactly what I was in the mood for.

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Little bump bump on this thread.

What are *THE BEST* items / dishes at Eden Center (any spot in the complex) for $10 or less? Heading there for a massive food excursion and want to try as many options as I can. Seriously...as many as I can. All suggestions welcome - food, drinks, snacks, etc.

Thanks!!

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Little bump bump on this thread.

What are *THE BEST* items / dishes at Eden Center (any spot in the complex) for $10 or less? Heading there for a massive food excursion and want to try as many options as I can. Seriously...as many as I can. All suggestions welcome - food, drinks, snacks, etc.

Thanks!!

Cha gio at Huong Viet.  Lotus rootlet salad there too.  (The white "hairs" in that salad are lotus root fibers, not poor sanitation!!!)

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Little bump bump on this thread.

What are *THE BEST* items / dishes at Eden Center (any spot in the complex) for $10 or less? Heading there for a massive food excursion and want to try as many options as I can. Seriously...as many as I can. All suggestions welcome - food, drinks, snacks, etc.

Thanks!!

I enjoyed the stuffed grape leaves at Rice Paper. One of my favorite Vietnamese dishes is Com Tam Bi Suong Cha, which is a broken rice dish with various meats and doused with nuoc cham. I've had a good version at Huong Viet.

And don't limit yourself to what you can eat in one day or afternoon. Go to Banh Ta Deli and take a few things to take home with you. Get the banh chung, which is special for Lunar New Year. I bought one a few weeks ago and just finished it off this weekend. Just as great as I remember eating growing up. I don't know if it is less than $10 but it is great and something you can only get once a year. Also, get a to go box of banh cuong (the Vietnamese rice crepe). Very good and makes a nice light lunch.

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Cha gio at Huong Viet.  Lotus rootlet salad there too.  (The white "hairs" in that salad are lotus root fibers, not poor sanitation!!!)

I enjoyed the stuffed grape leaves at Rice Paper. One of my favorite Vietnamese dishes is Com Tam Bi Suong Cha, which is a broken rice dish with various meats and doused with nuoc cham. I've had a good version at Huong Viet.

And don't limit yourself to what you can eat in one day or afternoon. Go to Banh Ta Deli and take a few things to take home with you. Get the banh chung, which is special for Lunar New Year. I bought one a few weeks ago and just finished it off this weekend. Just as great as I remember eating growing up. I don't know if it is less than $10 but it is great and something you can only get once a year. Also, get a to go box of banh cuong (the Vietnamese rice crepe). Very good and makes a nice light lunch.

Great stuff - thank you both! Keep the recommendations coming, please... Also, sorry, should've mentioned, this will be a multi-visit process, so there really is no such thing as too many dishes.

Thanks!

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