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Present, Vietnamese in Falls Church - Chef Luong Tran in the Former Secret Garden Space


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Secret Garden (a long-standing Korean restaurant in Graham Center) has a sign up saying the space is reopening as a Vietnamese restaurant.

We tried Present Restaurant this weekend. It's at 6678 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church. (703) 531-1881. Website here, and it has their menu. The restaurant was full of customers. We enjoyed our dinner and definitely want to go back to try more dishes.

The Washingtonian had an interesting story on this restaurant and chef. See article here. According to the article, Present is owned by Gene Nguyen who owns Pho Hot, and the chef Luong Tran came from Vietnam.

The menu has many choices, and the names of the dishes make for some entertaining reading. I had the Silken shawl imperial autumn roll described in the article, and although I want to try other dishes, I definitely want to get this again next time. It's filled with a mixture of pork and prawns and had a very crackly fried but not greasy mesh surrounding the roll. My husband had Honestly white cloud, a vegetarian appetizer of steamed rice cakes in little plates topped with chopped gluten. It came with a soy based sauce and a little dish of chopped raw spicy peppers to dress up the rice cakes. We really liked this appetizer too.

For my entrée I had the Hard-working piglet, which was small pieces of ribs in caramelized sauce. My husband had a tofu dish that sounds like it was Strolling in a lemongrass field (fried tofu with lemongrass) though he thought he ordered tofu with sweet and sour tomato sauce, but what he got was fine with him. We liked both entrees. For dessert, we got the caramel custard and the golden tropical orchard winter roll, which was a fried spring roll with pureed bananas and chopped fruit. We liked the custard better than the winter roll (the pureed bananas just weren't our thing). All the dishes were presented very nicely. The restaurant staff was very nice. Our bill was about $44 before tip (3 courses each and soda, tea). We thought this was a great inexpensive dinner.

Have any DR folks been?

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Have any DR folks been?
I tried to go soon after the Washingtonian article came out with their review, but the night I went, a huge electrical blowout occurred causing Annandale Road and that strip mall to go completely powerless. It's on my list to go, and now I'm more excited to try it based on your review cheesepowder.
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Have any DR folks been?

I went shortly after they opened. They decorated the place like it's an upscale restaurant but many diners brought their young children who ran around the restaurant like a MickeyD's playground. Is this still the case? The menu was very small for an Asian restaurant and I didn't see any lobster dish but the flyer we received had a lobster prominently pictured.

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I went shortly after they opened. They decorated the place like it's an upscale restaurant but many diners brought their young children who ran around the restaurant like a MickeyD's playground. Is this still the case? The menu was very small for an Asian restaurant and I didn't see any lobster dish but the flyer we received had a lobster prominently pictured.

There weren't any kids running around when we were there. I'm guessing the menu they have now may be different from the one you had because the current menu has alot of items. No lobster on the menu though.

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I meant alcoholic beverage license, so you've answered the query, thanks! Their on-line menu only lists their non-alcohol bevs. I'll try to drop-by in the near future and report back, since it's very near my house. I never made it to the Secret Garden....strange. I have been to JV's though, what a great dive.

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Went to Present for the first time last night - extremely good food, very pretty place inside. Friendly service, if a little slow at some points.

Eggplant with fish sauce was fantastic - a grilled smoky flavor, fried shallots, yum.

Whole steamed rockfish with ginger, etc. - perfectly done.

Tuna with mango - not as wonderful but still very good.

Wine only (maybe beer, I don't know - but no full bar).

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My party of 5 enjoyed a very good outing at Present last evening. I have to say -- although it may be damning with faint praise -- that this is the best restaurant within walking distance of my place in Falls Church. We started with shared apps: one "Treasures from the Sea" which is shrimp, calimari and some other kinds of seafood along with shredded mairinated vegies and papaya served in a scooped out pineapple. This is the most expensive item in the starters part of the menu, but it was a good idea for a small group to all get a couple of spoonfuls of very refreshing bits. We also shared a double order of the "Spring Rolls" (normally called summer rolls because the rice wrapper is fresh) which one of our party pronounced the best he ever had.

For her entree, my wife had the "Country Road" which is a crispy fried duck quarter served with a tamarind based sauce. I didn't try any because I was overwhelmed with my "Rich Folks Crepe", a ginormous crepe (half a large pie plate worth of crispy fried egg batter) stuffed with sprouts, shrimp and pork slices. The crepe comes accompanied with a generous supply of lettuce leaves, green and purple basil, cucumber slices and shredded carrot. The quality of the greens and sprouts was impecable -- absolutely fresh with no discoloration or other off-putting symptoms that are often found in other Asian restaurants. The other entrees engendered no criticism, but I can't recall what they were.

There is a modest wine list which allows you to order everything either by the glass or bottle. The proprietor told me that by next week the wine selections would be expanded and he would have some high end additions. Last night we enjoyed 2 bots of a nice off-dry Vignonier which went extremely well with our food.

The place was only seating two or three tables other than ours and we had the full attention of the extremely eager to please wait staff who were more than happy to offer suggestions and answer our questions. And the space itself is very handsomely appointed, elegant but not overly so.

I hope that Present has a long future in store. It is a very welcome addition to my 'hood.

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We started with shared apps: one "Treasures from the Sea" which is shrimp, calimari and some other kinds of seafood along with shredded marinated vegies and papaya served in a scooped out pineapple.

Did the seafood actually taste like well.. seafood? I find that in many places that shrimp and squid are devoid of any real flavor, the shrimp likely coming from a farm in Malaysia and the squid gutted, sliced, and then frozen before being thawed and cooked to the consistency of vulcanized rubber without nearly the flavor. I have found myself avoiding either ingredient when going out to most restaurants because of this.

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Did the seafood actually taste like well.. seafood? I find that in many places that shrimp and squid are devoid of any real flavor, the shrimp likely coming from a farm in Malaysia and the squid gutted, sliced, and then frozen before being thawed and cooked to the consistency of vulcanized rubber without nearly the flavor. I have found myself avoiding either ingredient when going out to most restaurants because of this.
The smell was pretty well masked by the marinade. Squid was chewy, but these are more bits than solid bites of the whole animal. Shrimp were whole and tasty. I found all the ingredients were very fresh, so I'm fairly certain the seafood was too.
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On my second visit to Present tonight, I asked the manager if it was possible to order dishes with no MSG. Granted, it was a leading question, but I asked it anyway.

"Yes, except for the pre-made sauces," he said.

I then asked, "When I order, should I just request 'No MSG?'"

He said yes.

Going into this evening, I was tempted to come right out and say that Present is a better Vietnamese restaurant than both Minh's (it's primary competition) and Four Sisters (the Americanized favorite), but I'm not prepared to do it unless Present discontinues using MSG in its cooking.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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My first visit to Present was a resounding success. My dining partner and I agreed that it was hard to pick a favorite item from the Autumn Roll, clam salad in a sesame cracker bowl, beef on a bed of onions and watercress and the soft-shell crab. I think the winner for me was the clam salad - which although the overall taste of clams was not terribly present, it was delicious. All of the food was beautifully presented and although we did have a wait for a table, the staff was excellent, if a little too pushy on some of the house favorites. Excellent meal - will be back.

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This is the best Vietnamese restaurant in the suburbs and, overall, one of the best ethnic restaurants in the D. C. area. I'd even suggest that it is as good as the best that I've found on the West Coast. I would strongly suggest going with a larger group and sharing a round table with a lazy susan in the middle. I'm sure that several others including Don will report on our lunch but we worked our way through, I think, 7 dishes including "duck in tamarind basket," "cow on the open field, "shrimp in the fresh ocean" (outstanding!), "treasure from the sea(excellent!) an extraordinary 4 lb (?) crispy, fried rockfish equal to any fried rockfish/flounder I have had anywhere, excellent spring rolls, sauteed asparagus and one or two more dishes that I can't remember. A remarkable meal that totalled $142 + tip for seven people which included the $40 crispy rockfish-which was worth EVERY penny.

Perhaps as good of a value as any restaurant that I have found in the D. C. area. Sincere thanks to Ericandblueboy for suggesting this and to Daniel Korn for putting it together. A great meal.

***

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Seven people dined in total at the Rockweiler lunch today, and we had way too much food for $20/person plus tip. I think the reviews around the table were uniformly excellent - this is much better than Four Sisters and other "upscale" Vietnamese food I have had in this area. Definitely on the repeat list, and if you don't order the most expensive things on the menu like we did, you can get away a lot cheaper.

Here are some pictures that I took (with my phone's camera, so be gentle).

post-227-1235505692_thumb.jpgThis is the chili sauce plate they brought for us. Starting from the upper right, going counter-clockwise, you have sweet chili sauce, roasted chili sauce, hot chili sauce, and then just chilis.

post-227-1235505649_thumb.jpg#3 "Silken Shawl Imperial Autumn Roll", rice thread noodles wrapped around ground pork and shrimp and fried. Absolutely fantastic.

post-227-1235505666_thumb.jpg#8 "Treasure from the Sea", seafood salad (shrimp, squid, and scallops) with julienned vegetables, served in a hollowed-out pineapple. Spicy-sour sauce with peanuts. The pineapple was a nice presentation, and although this was very tasty with perfectly cooked shrimp, not much to differentiate it from other restaurants.

post-227-1235505672_thumb.jpg#33 "Duck in Tamarind Basket", I don't get the basket reference, but the duck was crispy without the least bit of dryness.

post-227-1235505676_thumb.jpg#37 "Cow on the Open Field", 'shaken' beef on watercress salad. Large pieces, cooked medium-rare, tender, and the watercress was a great balance.

post-227-1235505682_thumb.jpg#45 "Shrimp in the Fresh Ocean", LARGE shrimp, so delicately fried that you barely realized you were eating through the shell. Fantastic.

post-227-1235505685_thumb.jpgFresh sauteed asparagus. Not on the menu. Very nice.

post-227-1235505700_thumb.jpg

post-227-1235505705_thumb.jpg

post-227-1235505710_thumb.jpgA four-pound rockfish, perfectly fried and served with a ginger sauce. This is on the menu in the restaurant (as the only non-numbered item with a star next to it), but not on the menu on the website. You need to order this - someone at the table thought this was one of the best fish dishes they have had at any restaurant in the DC area.

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The Imperial Autumn Roll is just cha gio wrapped with some rice made latticework. The cha gio itself is delicious, as good as any I've had. The rice thread adds more crunch but not more flavor. I'd just as soon order the cha gio on my next trip.

Did anyone see scallops in the seafood salad? I saw the shrimp and calamari but didn't see any scallops.

The shrimp and fish were the highlights - very similar to Chinese/Cantonese in style and very well executed. The fish was served with a ginger fish sauce, which made it uniquely Vietnamese. The fish was $40 but it easily served 7 of us (they have different sized fish).

I don't think Daniel's pictures did justice to the food (taken from a Blackberry I believe). I believe there will be better pictures that's more representative of moo moo frolicking in the meadow, young prawns mating, rockfish jumping out of the frying pan, etc.

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There were no scallops that I saw, but I really liked that salad. It was especially tasty when you added in the second hot sauce. I don't think there were any misses with what was ordered at lunch - probably would have ordered a different roll to break up the fried dishes, but they were good (I'll stick with a fresh spring roll in the future most likely).

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I had the pleasure of being at the table with the rest of Tyson's Corner crew and the food and the company were great. Right off the bat it was clear our waiter was out of his league dealing with us so the manager strolled over and guided our ordering. I saw Rock's post downstream about the MSG in the cooking, but couldn't say if it was included in our dishes or not. That being said, I have to second everyone with saying the standouts of the meal were the shrimp (and I'm not even the biggest fan of shellfish) and the crispy fish. I also really liked the duck, but then again, I haven't met a well cooked duck that I didn't like :D The presentation of the Treasure from the Sea and the Rockfish was ridiculous, but in a good, entertaining sort of way. The waitstaff were pleasant and attentive throughout the meal.

I'm really glad that EricandBluueboy and DanielK organized our butts into actually going anywhere for lunch, thanks guys :P Next time I'll be sure to bring my camera.

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This is the best Vietnamese restaurant in the suburbs and, overall, one of the best ethnic restaurants in the D. C. area. I'd even suggest that it is as good as the best that I've found on the West Coast. I would strongly suggest going with a larger group and sharing a round table with a lazy susan in the middle. I'm sure that several others including Don will report on our lunch but we worked our way through, I think, 7 dishes including "duck in tamarind basket," "cow on the open field, "shrimp in the fresh ocean" (outstanding!), "treasure from the sea(excellent!) an extraordinary 4 lb (?) crispy, fried rockfish equal to any fried rockfish/flounder I have had anywhere, excellent spring rolls, sauteed asparagus and one or two more dishes that I can't remember. A remarkable meal that totalled $142 + tip for seven people which included the $40 crispy rockfish-which was worth EVERY penny.

Perhaps as good of a value as any restaurant that I have found in the D. C. area. Sincere thanks to Ericandblueboy for suggesting this and to Daniel Korn for putting it together. A great meal.

***

Good to hear. Have you had the whole fried fish (red snapper when I had it last) at Minh's in Arlington? I was wondering how it compares, as I thought it was excellently done when I had it there.

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Good to hear. Have you had the whole fried fish (red snapper when I had it last) at Minh's in Arlington? I was wondering how it compares, as I thought it was excellently done when I had it there.

I've not had it there but I've had similar versions at The Source, Thai Square and Thai Luanh in Herndon within the past several months and have used this as kind of a standard to judge a restaurant for years. Present's version is the best in the D. C. area probably equal to Chinois in Santa Monica. In fact there are some interesting comparisons here between Present and The Source. There were several dishes that I thought were as good as Puck's restaurant. I don't know if Present will be as good on my second visit but I was really impressed with the first. I think the real way to do this restaurant is what we did: a group of people at one of their round tables with a lazy susan in the middle and 7, 8 or more courses, even 10 or 12 and, say, three hours to experience this. The fish will be the show stopper and for anyone reading this, please, try a larger rockfish, say 3 to 4 pounds. The presentation is spectacular.

I'm already thinking about returning to Present in a month or so and doing a blowout dinner, just giving them $50 or 60 per person for 12 or so courses (not including wine, tax or tip) and seeing what they can do. This would be an awesome restaurant to do this in. When I think of what we got for $20 a person it would be interesting to see what they can really do, essentially without a limit.

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I'm already thinking about returning to Present in a month or so and doing a blowout dinner, just giving them $50 or 60 per person for 12 or so courses (not including wine, tax or tip) and seeing what they can do. This would be an awesome restaurant to do this in. When I think of what we got for $20 a person it would be interesting to see what they can really do, essentially without a limit.

I suspect they will do more seafood similar in style to Cantonese cooking but with a Vietnamese twist. At that price range, they have to serve lobster, crab, fish, jumbo prawns, clams, etc. I'm interested in what menu they end up proposing.

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We went to see the space and try the food last night, and came away very pleased. We tried three of the four kinds of rolls (the fried ones, naturally). The summer roll is nice, very porky, reminding me strongly of lumpia, but eclipsed by the autumn roll, which is also full of of pork with a smidge of shrimp? It has that beautiful latticework roll that feels greaseless but is very crunchy. We also tried the dessert roll - the winter roll, which is an assortment of chopped fruits in vanilla icream, wrapped like a spring roll, and fried. Strange, but good in an interesting way. Sort of Asian meets Eamonn's.

We had the shaking beef, grilled eggplant with fish sauce, and tuna something something swimming with the mangoes? (the names are fanciful and funny, but kind of hard to remember). The beef was flavorful and NOT OVERCOOKED (still reddish inside), served with onions on a bed of cress. I really liked the big plate of smoky eggplant with lots of mild, pleasant fish sauce, but my companion kept remarking "how smoky" it was. Or course, he kept eating it, so make of that what you will. This dish would have been slightly boring on its own, as the waitress warned me, but with the beef over some rice it made a fantastic combination. The tuna was a steak, pan-fried, served over shredded GREEN mango (a surprise, but fine) and covered with more fish sauce. The fry job was great - crispy edges without totally overcooking the fish and the mango provided a slightly tart accompaniment. All presentations were colorful (vegetable rosettes), clean (not overly fussy, but lots of carrot pickle!), and pretty.

The service cracked me up - the waitresses were exceedingly attentive and volunteered suggestions to the point of pushiness. Still, everyone was extremely welcoming and spoke decent to excellent English, which is a nice change for an Asian restaurant. We spoke to a manager and they are working on building a banquet space downstairs, with completion expected in the next couple of months and plans to seat up to 100 guests.

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Passing along a tip I learned from a manager/owner (?) when he saw me eating the Silken Shawl Imperial Autumn roll (the crispy roll with the latticework). He said to wrap it with the lettuce, carrots, herbs, etc. that come on the side to give it a fresh taste. I noticed another benefit is that the lettuce leaf helps hold in all the crispy bits when you take a bite.

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Passing along a tip I learned from a manager/owner (?) when he saw me eating the Silken Shawl Imperial Autumn roll (the crispy roll with the latticework). He said to wrap it with the lettuce, carrots, herbs, etc. that come on the side to give it a fresh taste. I noticed another benefit is that the lettuce leaf helps hold in all the crispy bits when you take a bite.

I believe this was the same gentleman who stopped me from munching on the radish rose garnish for my "cow wandering mournfully in the field" (the dish names are hard to remember, yes) because of the vivid red food coloring they used. The cow was fantastic- little marinated chunks of beef with a garlic and pepper sauce that has a nice slow heat to it.

On the downside, the house music seemed to be "Dr. Demento does the chart-topping hits of the 60s, 70s, and 80s in Esperanto with engine noises."

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I believe this was the same gentleman who stopped me from munching on the radish rose garnish for my "cow wandering mournfully in the field" (the dish names are hard to remember, yes) because of the vivid red food coloring they used. The cow was fantastic- little marinated chunks of beef with a garlic and pepper sauce that has a nice slow heat to it.

On the downside, the house music seemed to be "Dr. Demento does the chart-topping hits of the 60s, 70s, and 80s in Esperanto with engine noises."

So are there descriptions of the dishes on the menu or are you supposed to know that "animals frolicking on a rainy Tuesday under a purple umbrella singing Broadway tunes" is pho?

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So are there descriptions of the dishes on the menu or are you supposed to know that "animals frolicking on a rainy Tuesday under a purple umbrella singing Broadway tunes" is pho?

:rolleyes: Yup, they have descriptions of the dishes on the menu. Here's a direct link to the menu on their website.

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:rolleyes: Yup, they have descriptions of the dishes on the menu. Here's a direct link to the menu on their website.

Thank you! As a Camino user, their website pulls up only a picture with hard to read text stating that HTML content should be placed there. Your link worked though.

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Went to Present Friday night. We loved it. Based on some comments here, we got #3 and #37. We also ordered #17 Rich Folks Golden Crepes. Like the autumn rolls, the crepe came with a side of lettuce, herbs, and fish sauce and the waiter explained that we should cut the crepe into slices and hold it with the lettuce like a taco and dip it in the fish sauce. It was a good sized crepe and tasty. (A small gripe would be that we would have liked a few more shrimp in it.)

Service was excellent. Like I already mentioned, the waiter explained how to eat the crepes. He said, "Do you know how to eat this?" I thought, "Um, the fact that you're asking makes me think I don't," so he then explained. A manager checked on us (to apologize that our meal was taking so long even though we didn't think it had been too long and later just to see how we liked our meal) and so did the owner (at least I'm assuming it was the owner since he looked a lot like the main guy I see at the Centreville Pho Hot). The waiter brought out a plate of steamed rice with the #37. Since we started with the crepe, he came back after a couple minutes and took the rice to heat it back up for when we were ready to start on the beef. They definitely seemed to care whether we were having a good meal or not. For whatever reason, their inquiries into our evening came off as very sincere.

Also, while I'm not opposed to the authentic experiences at various ethnic restaurants, it was nice to have a hostess, waiter, manager, and owner who all spoke clear English and understood what we were saying.

Oh, and one question: Is the name of this place Present, Present, Present, or Present? :rolleyes:

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Like dgreen, I loved the service here on Friday night. The waiter made recommendations to kick off the meal, none of which were upsells (something I really appreciate) and gave us guidance on eating the food. We loved everything, from the #3 (Autumn Rolls) to the best fried rice we have had in the area in #27 (Pilgrim on the Beach), which had thick chunks of real crab meat and copious amounts shrimp with a nice buttery finish to the rice. We also really enjoyed #36 (Hard Working Piglet) although the sauce was a bit cloying and #45 (Shrimp in the Fresh Ocean), although it was really overpriced at $18.95 for about 8 shrimp.

MSG or no MSG, this is by far the best Vietnamese restaurant in the area. Minh's is clean and has some good flavors, but is overly pricey and does not hit the flavor notes that this place does. Now that I've taken my Asian-food obsessed wife here once, I'm sure I'll be making plenty of trips back.

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Have you tried the Four Sisters (Huong Que) at the new location? How is Present in comparison? We were at Four Sisters past weekend and the dishes seemed tamed to suit a less adventurous palate.

Agreed. I have been to Four Sisters twice in the new location, and Present blows it away.

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Have you tried the Four Sisters (Huong Que) at the new location? How is Present in comparison? We were at Four Sisters past weekend and the dishes seemed tamed to suit a less adventurous palate.

I've only been to Four Sisters at the old location (about 2 years ago?) and it was not good enough to bring me back for a second visit. I will definitely be back to Present (hopefully sooner rather than later).

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[Present got shafted today when I inadvertently merged the entire thread into the Four Sisters thread, taking with it the "number of Views" statistic - I had to recreate it manually (and it was a pain). Everyone please do Present a favor and hit "reload" twenty times to get their hit counter back to where it should be. (Dean and Michael, you guys are good at this ... how about it?) :rolleyes:]

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Oh, and one question: Is the name of this place Present, Present, Present, or Present? :rolleyes:

No, really, I'd like to know. Pick one:

"Since I will not be present at you birthday party, I will go ahead and present to you this present at this present time."

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Shout-out from Sietsema's chat today:

Food adventure to the 'burbs: Tom,

Some usually-public-transportation-bound friends and I have access to a car tonight, which is an unusual treat. We decided we want to venture to the 'burbs (either Md. or Va.) for dinner. We're thinking some sort of Asian food but we'd open to virtually any cuisine. (Since we're planning this so last minute, it probably has to be somewhere that wouldn't require a reservation).

So -- bottom line -- if it was your one chance to get out of D.C. and have a not-too-expensive dinner, where would you go??

Tom Sietsema: You know what's good right now? Present, the handsome Vietnamese dining room in an anonymous strip mall in Falls Church. If you try only one appetizer, make it the giant shrimp cracker heaped with chopped baby clams, ground beef, mint and lime.

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No, really, I'd like to know. Pick one:

"Since I will not be present at you birthday party, I will go ahead and present to you this present at this present time."

OK -- having thought deeply about this I will take a Heideggerian whack at an answer: "The Present of Present is Present."
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I've now been to this restaurant 4 times in the last month or so and agree with the previous posts. One thing I haven't seen mentioned is #12 Country Banquet Vermicelli which is a staple when I go. It's a large bowl of noodles with tender pieces of pork, bean sprouts, etc. You to take the side of fish sauce, pour it over the noodles, mix it all up and enjoy! It could be a meal on its own or serve as a fine companion to your cow or shrimp.

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...I'm already thinking about returning to Present in a month or so and doing a blowout dinner, just giving them $50 or 60 per person for 12 or so courses (not including wine, tax or tip) and seeing what they can do. This would be an awesome restaurant to do this in. When I think of what we got for $20 a person it would be interesting to see what they can really do, essentially without a limit.

Did you determine whether or not to do the blowout dinner? I tried Present for lunch today and was not as impressed. Quality of ingredients was high, but flavor "punches" I usually get from Huong Viet, Viet Bistro, etc., were lacking. The peanut sauce for the fresh summer rolls (not fried) approached bland, and the broth of the vermicelli noodle soup lacked depth, even with condiments. The crispness of the mung beans and other vegetables was outstanding, though, the base ingredients are certainly on target.

I was also struck by how well the interior had been transformed. I was a regular at Secret Garden back before the quality of their Korean cuisine became spotty at best, sketchy at worst. The stunning waterfall and more open layout at Present are most attractive.

So I agree that the venue would be perfect for a customized dinner, and if you wind up doing that, would love to hear about (or join!) your experience.

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I'm sorry that Present wasn't the same experience for you that it was for myself. I've put together a dinner for mid April with a group of ten and a special menu to try and find out exactly how good it can be. I'll report back afterwards.

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Had an awesome meal here over the weekend. I'm a Vietnamese novice, having eaten Vietnamese food about 4 or 5 times in my life (Four Sisters and one of the places in Georgetown). The meal was superb and different than anything else I have ever had - and miles better than the places in Georgetown and quite a bit better than what we had at Four Sisters (though I felt the menu at Present had little similarity to Four Sisters).

We shared the rich man's crepe and the autumn rolls which have been mentioned above. Both were excellent. Particularly enjoyed making the wraps with the crepe/rolls and the herbs.

For entrees, my wife had the tamarind glazed duck and I had the sweet and sour soup. Both were fabulous. The duck was tender, falling off the bone and had an excellent sweet glaze. We both thought the sweet and sour soup was superb - full of bean sprouts, okra, shrimp, and other veges. It had a lot of flavor including a nice pineapple flavor and a number of other rich flavors I honestly haven't ever had with prior to this meal.

Service was excellent. Overall an excellent meal.

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Got the spring roll & pork vermicelli last night as take out around 6:30. The place was absolutely empty. I'm not talking one or two tables either. No one but the servers, who obviously are so used to the dead room that they were having family meal at one of the large tables. The manager said they usually get 7 or 8 tables in around 7:30 on weeknights, but that was status quo. So if you want amazingly attentive service & a chef focused on the food he's preparing for your table, I suggest hitting Present on a weeknight sometime before 7:30. You'll be treated as if you were the only customer in the joint!

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A group of coworkers and I stopped in on Monday (our first stop was Kareoke Idol, but they're closed on Mondays :rolleyes: ) and for 1pm on a Monday, the place was actually somewhat busy. I'm lame and got the Duck Tamarind dish again, my coworkers got the Cow on the Open Field, summer rolls, and one of the crepe appetizers for a meal (which, as an appetizer, is HUGE). We also asked about getting the green bean/asaparus dish, and the waiter wanted me to pick one or the other. I asked about a mix and they did it, albeit for $12.95 which strikes me as expensive for vegetables, but it was delicious, so I didn't really complain.

All the food was as great as the last time I was there, service was great and the coworkers were happy. It is rather too expensive for my usual lunch haunts, but on the other hand, it's a really nice change up. I'll have to try takeout sometime soon. Mel- how was the pork vermicelli?

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Mel- how was the pork vermicelli?
Huge! I know I'm going to get blasted for this, for I do love pork fat, but I tend to prefer lean pork in my vermicelli. Present's version was a bit fatty for my taste, but that didn't stop me. All in all, I thought it was good but not as good as a variety of other things I've eaten at Present.
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