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Jul 19, 2008 05:36 AM

Nam Viet Disappointment

It's been two and a half years now since the death of Mr. Thoi, the grandfather and patriarch who started Nam Viet, and who, until his passing, personally made the three major sauces that are featured in his restaurants.

And last week marked only about the third time I've been to Nam Viet in Clarendon since his death.

I was certainly surprised by what I was served. A lovely dish of yellow noodles I hadn't tried in a while had it's subtle smokiness overcome by too much sugar. In addition, it was dominated by an abundance of cauliflower, which I had not seen used before at Nam Viet.

Another dish I had was lemongrass chicken, which used to be cooked and served in a clay pot (as the menu still states). Instead, it is cooked I don't know how then dumped into a porcelain dish resembling a pot. This too has evolved into a very sweet dish.

The beauty of these two dishes were completely gone for me. No subtlety, just sweetness plus the blandness of the cauliflower. This was just plain bad.

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  1. It is too bad you had a poor experience. I used to go to Nam Viet in Clarendon alot about 15 years ago and it was generally very good. Upon returning to the area a few years ago I went back and it only seemed okay. I have not been recently. Instead I go to Minh's when I want Vietnamese in the Clarendon area.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rappel75

      I am a longtime Nam Viet fanatic, so this was a real letdown for me. But I got the feeling this wasn't just a bad day. Some of the things wrong seemed systemic.

    2. Any comments on how the Cleveland Park location of Nam Viet compares to the Clarendon location and how good the pho is for the DC area?

      3 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        I've never been to the Clarendon location, but Nam Viet in Cleveland Park has always been ok, nothing special. Their Pho, however, doesn't hold a candle to any of the well known Pho-only joints in the region.

        1. re: DanielK

          Thanks, DanielK. Appreciate the perspective.

        2. re: cimui

          I've always found the Clarendon location to be superior to a noticeable degree. Also - if you pho go somewhere else - go here for the rest of the menu (including the salmon soup if you want soup).