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Nam-Viet Pho 79, Family-Owned Vietnamese in Clarendon - Cleveland Park Location Closed Jun 25, 2017


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A lady I know has been touting this place for weeks, so we went tonight. It's a few doors down from Dino. The d�cor is plastic but the food is worth a trip. We had Crispy Spring Rolls (truly crunchy), Hue Spicy Beef Soup (needed a couple of hits from the spices on the table), Fried Quail (delicate and delicious), and Grilled Pork Hanoi (nice). She had a VN beer, "33," never heard of it. What happened in VN in 1933? And why do they have the name of the restaurant backwards?

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A lady I know has been touting this place for weeks, so we went tonight. It's a few doors down from Dino. The décor is plastic but the food is worth a trip. We had Crispy Spring Rolls (truly crunchy), Hue Spicy Beef Soup (needed a couple of hits from the spices on the table), Fried Quail (delicate and delicious), and Grilled Pork Hanoi (nice). She had a VN beer, "33," never heard of it. What happened in VN in 1933? And why do they have the name of the restaurant backwards?
In Vietnam it's called 333, but apparently over here as a protest against the Communist government it's only called 33. I'm not sure if the 333 has some sort of lucky number significance, but I sorta doubt it. It was considered a Western beer in Vietnam initially.
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The Cleveland Park Nam Viet has always been a go-to for us, though the service is so abrubt we tend to carry out rather than dine in. Lately, however, it feels as though it's been drifting slightly downhill, from above-average to pretty mediocre. The pho is still good, though, and few things go better with a chilled Gewurtztraminer than the curried squid.

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Should this not read Three locations? Is not the Clarendon Nam-Viet part of the same family?
Although the website shows a photo of the Mt. Vernon Ave. location, the Del Ray/Arlandria location is closed and has been for more than a year. It was replaced by Pho Saigon 8. The Clarendon location is part of the same family.
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The Cleveland Park Nam Viet has always been a go-to for us, though the service is so abrubt we tend to carry out rather than dine in. Lately, however, it feels as though it's been drifting slightly downhill, from above-average to pretty mediocre. The pho is still good, though, and few things go better with a chilled Gewurtztraminer than the curried squid.
I disagree, the food is pretty much the same it has always been in the last 3+ years that I've lived nearby and eaten here at least once every week or two. The food is about a 6 out of 10 - good, not great, but the prices are very good - large bowl of different types of pho for around $7-8 or other meat or seafood entrees for $10-15. Also some dishes are better than others - most of the chicken dishes are alittle overcooked, but the beef dishes are usually spot on. My two favorites besides pho are the lemongrass skewered beef and Nam-Viet special stir-fried noodles with tofu, and mixed vegetables, which is like a vietnamese twist on pad thai. I will agree that the service is somewhat chaotic - you don't really have a server, the whole team waits on you or doesn't. However, I do think as a regular, service may be bit better because they know me. Nonetheless, the servers are all very friendly and willing to explain dishes. My thought is that it is a great neighborhood restaurant and one of the few metro-accessible pho joints in the District.
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I disagree, the food is pretty much the same it has always been in the last 3+ years that I've lived nearby and eaten here at least once every week or two.
Hah -- you shoulda been there nine years ago when I started eating there. Them was the good old days. :lol:

I will agree that the service is somewhat chaotic - you don't really have a server, the whole team waits on you or doesn't. However, I do think as a regular, service may be bit better because they know me. Nonetheless, the servers are all very friendly and willing to explain dishes. My thought is that it is a great neighborhood restaurant and one of the few metro-accessible pho joints in the District.
Eating in I generally get ignored for a brief period, then if I don't order everything at once -- drinks, apps, mains -- I get something of an eye roll, and then everything shows up more or less at the same time. If I'm not careful, I'm back on the street in 45 minutes. It's not that service is rude or anything, it's just a tough place to get a relaxing meal.
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Hah -- you shoulda been there nine years ago when I started eating there. Them was the good old days. :lol:

Eating in I generally get ignored for a brief period, then if I don't order everything at once -- drinks, apps, mains -- I get something of an eye roll, and then everything shows up more or less at the same time. If I'm not careful, I'm back on the street in 45 minutes. It's not that service is rude or anything, it's just a tough place to get a relaxing meal.

This differs a lot from my usual experience dining in there and I almost never do carry out. More often than not, the service is on the slow side, than fast.
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Lulled in by the not-too-bad notes on the pho here, I thought it wouldn't be a bad in-law/toddler stop after the zoo today. I was wrong. The pho was watery and fairly flavorless, and the meat was bad. I was happy to abandon my bowl when the girl started to get a bit antsy; my leftover turkey meatloaf was a vast improvement.

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So number 31 here Nam-Viet Grilled Pork w/Crispy Spring Roll over Rice Vermicelli is where it is at. I spent a long morning gardening with a friend and we went to the Arlington location with her husband to eat after our hard work out of weeding and mulching and planting. They told me number 31 was their favorite order here, so I went for it. The pork is so well caramelized on the outside it is just a great dish. Of course I was also starving, I ended up eating the whole bowl and a shrimp toast, which was also very good.

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So number 31 here Nam-Viet Grilled Pork w/Crispy Spring Roll over Rice Vermicelli is where it is at.

If there was a like button, I'd click it! That is my favorite, too. Makes me think I need to get back to Nam-Viet (maybe after I do some badly needed gardening).

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So number 31 here Nam-Viet Grilled Pork w/Crispy Spring Roll over Rice Vermicelli is where it is at. I spent a long morning gardening with a friend and we went to the Arlington location with her husband to eat after our hard work out of weeding and mulching and planting. They told me number 31 was their favorite order here, so I went for it. The pork is so well caramelized on the outside it is just a great dish. Of course I was also starving, I ended up eating the whole bowl and a shrimp toast, which was also very good.

Yes. #31. It is my go-to. I sit down and Kenny(?) says, "Fischer Amber? Shrimp garden rolls? #31?" I say, "Yes." Then I stuff myself silly (usually after asking for more dressing/sauce to put on the #31) and, after the damage is done, am happy to accept the hot towel to save myself the trip to the bathroom for my typical post-meal hand washing. Thank you, Nam-Viet, for ten years of that ritual.

JFW

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Perhaps the new thread title should be #31 is where it is at, as that seems to be consensus B)

I was trying to remember if I have ever ordered anything except #31 in the last 15 years. I think the answer is no. I am not sure if that makes me boring, but I don't care.

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Inspired by the recent posts here, I did get back to Nam-Viet for a #31. Perfect quiet spot for a late Sunday lunch, away from the Mother's Day hoopla elsewhere. As usual, all my cravings (sweet, salty, crispy, noodley, crunchy) were satisfied. I enjoy the salad aspect of the dish - plenty of cucumber, sprouts, mint, etc. to lighten things up. The +1 ordered the shrimp and pork garden rolls - wrappers were a bit dry, but otherwise they were bursting with fresh ingredients. The peanut dipping sauce did seem thin, compared to previous visits. He also ordered the Hue Spicy Beef Soup mentioned in the first post of this thread (miss you StephenB B) ). The same comment held true yesterday - it needed a bit of spice from the condiments on the table. Aside from that, flavor was good, lots of sweet onions and thick noodles along with the beef.

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The +1 ordered the shrimp and pork garden rolls - wrappers were a bit dry, but otherwise they were bursting with fresh ingredients. The peanut dipping sauce did seem thin, compared to previous visits.

I had these last evening, and I recall thinking the same thing about the peanut sauce. I have had these garden rolls dozens of times over the years and yesterday's sauce was a particularly thin batch.

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We were there Friday night. My Mom had strep (non-contagious at this point) and we wanted a dinner that was low-key. She got the curried chicken with coconut juice in clay pot, which I thought had a nice flavor, not spicy, a little sweet, but actually rather well balanced, and was really nice for her as it wasn't bland, but it was comforting and not too out of the norm for her in terms of things she likes to eat.

I got the lemon peel chicken with rice vermicelli, just to try it. Good, but nowhere as good as the #31. The chicken just doesn't have the flavor of that pork. And it wasn't quite as crispy. But service was so friendly and nice and it was nice not to have to wait somewhere and for Mom to get something that sounded good to her when she didn't feel well.

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FYI, from a sign in the window and posted on their website:

Nam-Viet Restaurant will be closed for renovations

VA. - Monday, August 13th, 2012 through Sunday, August 19th, 2012.

D.C. - Monday, August 6th, 2012 through Sunday, August 12th, 2012.

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Clarendon location closed for renovations again until August 12, 2013.

Nam-Viet Restaurant Arlington, Va. location will be closed for renovations from - 
Monday, August 5, 2013 to Sunday, August 11, 2013. We will reopen for business Monday, August 12th, 2013.During this time, we invite you to visit our sister location in Cleveland Park

I did not notice any differences after the last renovation.  Maybe this time will be different.  Maybe "renovations" is just the Vietnamese word for "summer vacation."

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Clarendon location closed for renovations again until August 12, 2013.

I did not notice any differences after the last renovation.  Maybe this time will be different.  Maybe "renovations" is just the Vietnamese word for "summer vacation."

When they renovated the CP location a few years back they updated the decor a bit and made slight additions to the menu but the food and service were generally the same.

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Love the Spicy Beef Hue here but haven't been in in a while.  It's tough when they're on the same strip as Dino, Ripple, and Palena and adjacent to Indique and Medium Rare!  (Though I haven't had a chance to eat at Medium Rare, truth be told, and I haven't been to Palena or Indique in years either, because when I'm in that area I always end up just making a bee line for Dino, so who am I kidding, really.)

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Have been to Nam-Viet many times but don't think I've ever posted on it. I think of it as serviceable as in, well priced and good enough to return (as I have) if convenient (which it is).  That said, much better Vietnamese can be had in VA--Annandale, Four Sisters in Merrifield and Pho (forgetting the number) in Arlington for pho.

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This is for nam Viet. This place is alright, but they dont seem to have any idea what Nyuk Mam is (the clear kind not the sweet kind) is when I ask for it, even though its a very common vietnamese ingredient, and I like to add it to my pho. And yes, I have ordered the cuisine here, its alright, but no comparison to Mihns for portions or price. Place is decent, but prices are actually cheaper by a fraction of a dollar at Mihns, which has more accomodating service and better ambience. So unless you live closer to Nam Viet than Mihns, and you dont feel like going to the Eden Center, Its alright, other than that, I would recommend Mihns or nearly any place in the Eden Center above this place.

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This is for nam Viet. This place is alright, but they dont seem to have any idea what Nyuk Mam is (the clear kind not the sweet kind) is when I ask for it,

I'm assuming you mean nước mắm, which is fish sauce. I haven't eaten here in awhile (Arlington location), but when I used to go often there was always an oil/vinegar type dispenser full of nước mắm floating around the restaurant. There is no "sweet kind", unless your referring to nước chấm which is a condiment made with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice or vinegar, and sometimes garlic and chillies. Also, in the past, some of the servers were not Vietnamese so they may not have understood what you were asking.

This restaurant seems to have always catered to a non-Vietnamese clientele. For instance, when they serve phở, they don't serve basil on the side, but chop it up and put it in the soup. On the up side, they include chopped sawtooth herb (culantro) as well as basil in their phở, which most places don't serve (and the broth is good). Many dishes that would normally be served with fresh herbs and some raw vegetables are usually not, except for lettuce and watercress (and bean sprouts for phở) . Like Thai restaurants not serving raw vegetables with dishes, they probably learned long ago that Americans will leave all that stuff on plate and they would end up throwing most of it away.

(maybe there is a Three Stooges Brand Fish Sauce, Nyuk Mam) :P

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I do like Minh's but I think Nam Viet does carmelized meat better than Minh's but Minh's has other dishes that they do much better.  I don't tend to prefer one, it's more a what are you eating type of thing.  Nam Viet has better shrimp toast and I prefer their rolls.

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I live right near the Cleveland Park Nam Viet so it has been a regular, consistent go to spot of mine for many, many years. The pho is definitely more Americanized in that while there are various protein options, there is only 2 beef options (spicy and not and both are thin sliced flank? steak) - that being said it is still very good.  I especially enjoy the tofu garden/fresh rolls that taste extra fresh with the addition of some mint leaves and a great peanut sauce. My other go to choices here are the 1) lemongrass skewered beef either over rice or vermecelli noodles - (you tend to get more herbs with the vermecelli version) and 2) #46? the stir fried noodles with tofu, vegetables, and crushed peanuts (I think of it as vietnamese vegetarian pad thai).Lately, we've also been getting the carmelized chicken with ginger but it isn't as good -sometime the chicken is overcooked and last time the dish was super spicy whereas it usually is rather mild. As a guilty pleasure I also like the crispy vegetarian rolls but they basically deep fried grease with a bite of veggies dipped in their excellent nuoc cham (sweetened, prepared fish sauce). Overall, it is a good place, the prices are good for the area and it seems to be one of the better Vietnamese options in the city (albeit that is only saying so much) - so if you are closer to here I say go and enjoy, but if you want something more authentic or don't mind travelling to the burbs, then go forth.

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I live right near the Cleveland Park Nam Viet so it has been a regular, consistent go to spot of mine for many, many years. The pho is definitely more Americanized in that while there are various protein options, there is only 2 beef options (spicy and not and both are thin sliced flank? steak) - that being said it is still very good.  I especially enjoy the tofu garden/fresh rolls that taste extra fresh with the addition of some mint leaves and a great peanut sauce. My other go to choices here are the 1) lemongrass skewered beef either over rice or vermecelli noodles - (you tend to get more herbs with the vermecelli version) and 2) #46? the stir fried noodles with tofu, vegetables, and crushed peanuts (I think of it as vietnamese vegetarian pad thai).Lately, we've also been getting the carmelized chicken with ginger but it isn't as good -sometime the chicken is overcooked and last time the dish was super spicy whereas it usually is rather mild. As a guilty pleasure I also like the crispy vegetarian rolls but they basically deep fried grease with a bite of veggies dipped in their excellent nuoc cham (sweetened, prepared fish sauce). Overall, it is a good place, the prices are good for the area and it seems to be one of the better Vietnamese options in the city (albeit that is only saying so much) - so if you are closer to here I say go and enjoy, but if you want something more authentic or don't mind travelling to the burbs, then go forth.

Those horrible for you deep fried rolls are good.

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The pho is definitely more Americanized in that while there are various protein options, there is only 2 beef options (spicy and not and both are thin sliced flank? steak) - that being said it is still very good.

I forgot to mention you can only get the sliced flank steak. That's another drawback for me, as I like to get "bible" tripe, soft tendon, bouncy rubbery meatballs and whatever other exciting textures are offered when I get phở . But they do have good broth.

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Thanks to @Gadarene I tried the spicy beef hue  in Clarendon.

Quote

I have a soft spot in my heart for Nam Viet and their beef hue.  I love those round noodles and the overall level of spice.

and enjoyed it.  It is spicy.  I believe I had a slight nose cold that day; the spices and aroma from the broth went right up my nostrils and my nose was running sort of non-stop.   LOL.  Very full, spicy hot.  I think I'll wait till colder weather to have it again.  Also as referenced earlier the crispy egg rolls (okay-not healthy for you) were also delish.

Ah Nam Viet: Back before Clarendon became the Clarendon it is today and had a plethora of Vietnamese restaurants Nam Viet was my go to among them.  Glad it survived the changes.  Have scarcely been there in over a decade.  Nice to stop by again.   I'll return.

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17 minutes ago, Genevieve said:

Their summer rolls (the non-fried ones wrapped in rice paper) are also delicious.

I do not think I have ever ordered takeout at the Clarendon location without getting at least one order of these rolls.

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The restaurant is renovating over the next few weeks, to "revitalize" the restaurant. It's the first time they've done it since it's been open.

I saw the tweet from Arl Now, which started with "Long-time Clarendon restaurant Nam-Viet will be closing..." and my heart sank. Very glad to read the rest of the sentence, "for several weeks of renovations starting next week."

https://www.arlnow.com/2017/07/25/nam-viet-restaurant-closing-for-renovations/

And now I will go hum "We're closed for renovation, for spiffing up and grooming, 'cause customers are flocking, and business has been booming..." from Little Shop of Horrors.

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On ‎8‎/‎7‎/‎2013 at 6:53 PM, dcs said:

Clarendon location closed for renovations again until August 12, 2013.

I did not notice any differences after the last renovation.  Maybe this time will be different.  Maybe "renovations" is just the Vietnamese word for "summer vacation."

Nam-Viet Restaurant Closing for Renovations, by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2017 at 10:00 am.  The Clarendon location has been closing for at least a couple weeks every August for "renovations" for as long as I can remember.  Yet, the interior never seems to change.  Is it really that shameful to say you are closing for vacation to give your staff and family a well-deserved break?

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22 hours ago, dcs said:

Nam-Viet Restaurant Closing for Renovations, by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2017 at 10:00 am.  The Clarendon location has been closing for at least a couple weeks every August for "renovations" for as long as I can remember.  Yet, the interior never seems to change.  Is it really that shameful to say you are closing for vacation to give your staff and family a well-deserved break?

One thing this may do is prevent theft. Saying "Closed to visit our family and friends in Vietnam" is one-step removed from handing someone a key. :) 

There may also be issues relating to the staff (an involuntary three-week layoff), although I don't know what they'd be - maybe some law states that you can only give your employees unpaid leave if you're renovating? I'm not saying that's what anyone is doing - certainly not this establishment which has been here for decades; that's merely the first thing that popped into my head.

Screenshot 2017-07-26 at 8.43.54 AM.png

I love their "Can-Tho-Nese" pun.

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Paper work up in the window at the former Cleveland Park location, lists the new operator as Mr. Chen's, occupancy for 70 people. 

I'm assuming it will be another branch of Mr. Chen's Organic Chinese Food, which has a location down the street in Woodley Park...but the paper work was light on details and that's all the info I have.  

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A good read about Nam Viet from the City Paper, especially the relationship between Vietnam vet Orson Swindle and late Nam Viet owner Nguyen Van Thoi.

I've meet Orson several times.  Interesting guy, not only does he have the best name ever for a former Federal Trade Commissioner, but he was John McCain's "roommate" at the Hanoi Hilton. 

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22 minutes ago, Tweaked said:

A good read about Nam Viet from the City Paper

I've meet Orson Swindle several times.  Interesting guy, not only does he have the best name ever for a former Federal Trade Commissioner, but he was John McCain's "roommate" at the Hanoi Hilton.

Thanks.  That is a terrific story.  I suppose I started going there fairly consistently starting in the late 80's or early 90's.  It became my favorite of the neighborhood Vietnamese restaurants when they were abundant in the "old" Clarendon.  Glad to see its still there.  The bar school we operate was around the corner from Nam Viet.  We moved it to Courthouse in the early 2000's and that cut my visits to Nam Viet quite drastically. 

Glad to be going back.  Its still good.  I had a sense of its dedication to Vietnam war vets from the 90's or so.  With the renovation there are abundant photos of related events held there..  Its something to celebrate and the photos themselves are worth a visit.   Ah those crispy rolls.  They are mentioned by others.  Still quite excellent.  Look forward to more frequent visits.

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6 hours ago, Tweaked said:

A good read about Nam Viet from the City Paper, especially the relationship between Vietnam vet Orson Swindle and late Nam Viet owner Nguyen Van Thoi.

I've meet Orson several times.  Interesting guy, not only does he have the best name ever for a former Federal Trade Commissioner, but he was John McCain's "roommate" at the Hanoi Hilton. 

Walked over for a late lunch.  Nice that they aren't closed between lunch and dinner.  Had pho ga and crispy spring rolls.   Pho ga okay.  There is better but there is certainly worse.  But those dynamite crispy crunchy spring rolls are the real deal.  

On my leisurely walk back ran into Steve Dugan from Earl's and described that the above referenced article inspired me to go over there.

What did he say?  He loves their spring rolls!!!!!

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13 hours ago, DaveO said:

 He loves their spring rolls!!!!!

I like the crispy rolls too but prefer the fresh garden rolls.  Really delightful with fresh mint and an excellent peanut sauce. When they were in CP, there were several occasions where I would order a double order of 4 rolls for a light meal.

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