- Chef John
I am looking for some knockout Vietnamese or Thai in dc. I don't want the nouveau Americanized version and I'll sacrifice atmosphere for superb authentic food. Any suggestions? I'll be in dc this weekend so time is of the essence. Thanks fellow hounds!
You seek the Eden Center. Anything there will be 100% Vietnamese. Falls Church boasts the largest Vietnamese population in the western hemisphere (i kid you not) and the Eden Center is one of the primary centers of it. Of particular quality is the Four Sisters restaurant. Four Sisters, Huong que restaurant, 6769 Wilson Blvd., 703-538-6717, right next to Viet Royale in the Eden Center. As for Thai, Dungrat's is the place. There is another restaurant attatched to it, Reibeng (sp?) which is the same people, just a little more "joint-y". Duangrat's, 5878 Leesburg Pike, Bailey's Crossroads, 820-5775
Rabieng and Duangrat's are probably the best Thai restauants that I have experienced in the D.C. area (or anywhere for that matter). They are both owned and operated by the same family, but I would say that Rabieng is marginally better because of the prices and regional dishes. If you don't have a car, or if you can't make it out to Bailey's Crossroads, then you might want to try Thai Kingdom on K street near the Foggy Botom-GWU metro stop.
You'll have to travel just a little bit out of DC to Northern Virginia for the authentic Vietnamese and Thai, but it's worth it. The DC places are expensive and watered down. In the Clarendon neighborhood in Arlington, there's Queen Bee (Vietnamese). In Crystal City, try Crystal Saigon (or its sister restaurant Saigon Saigon in Pentagon City). Huong Que (4 Sisters) in Eden Center @Seven Corners. Thai: I thought Duangrat's and Rabieng were overrated. Try Neisha Thai in Falls Church, Po Siam in Arlandria or Crystal Thai in Arlington instead. I also liked Benjarong in Rockville, Maryland.
Remember, there are two types of Vietnamese food you will encounter in this region: (a) traditional noodle-cart delicacies, historically cooked by Vietnamese commoners (b) less traditional gourmet delicacies, historically rooted in the French-Vietnamese colonialists.
My personal preference is any of the Pho 75 restaurants where they have excellent pho and wonderful iced coffee. If you haven't had pho before, I recommend ordering one without the traditional meats (tendon, tripe, fatty brisket) and one with more Americanized meats (meatballs, trimmed brisket).
Four Sisters, Huong Que restaurant, 6769 Wilson Blvd., in the Eden Center, 703-538-6717. Probably the finest Sino-French Vietnamese restaurant I have tried in the US or abroad, especially Paris, far surpassing such meccas as the old Indochine in New York; as well as Le Palanquin and Tan Dihn (Paris) for variety, freshness of ingredients, brilliant recipes, meticulous preparation, sheer abundance, and quick, pleasant, and attentive service. _Not_ a quiet, elegant setting and reservations are a must.