Xanh or Vien Dong for dinner Friday?
I've never been to either, but I've been to Hanoi for similar food they serve at Vien Dong. And I usually eat my ca kho to (catfish in caramel sauce) with com phan at Pho Bolsa or Thanh My. Not sure what I'm feeling like, where would you go if you had to choose one?
BTW, the guy doesn't care for the usual fish sauce dip so that's why I'm leaning towards Xanh. Anything at Vien Dong that doesn't involve nuoc mam (ok if it's cooked w/in the dish).
Never been to Vien Dong, but I really enjoyed Xanh. The beef dishes were great, esp. the Bò Lúc Lac and the ribs.
Not sure about Vien Dong. I've heard good things about Xanh. But like you, I've never been to either.
Since you mention Hanoi food (I prefer southern Vietnamese food): Two weeks ago, I (and my extended family, so about 15-18 of us) had dinner at Ha Noi Avenue, and I thought it was great. It's good homestyle food, not fancy stuff. It's not so good it's going to blow your mind (keeping in mind that I think food in Hanoi is a little more bland than food in the south,) but every dish my family had was solid. Their specialty is grilled catfish with turmeric and dill served with bun. I think their catfish bun for two is like $15. Nuoc mam/nuoc cham is served on the side.
Ha Noi Avenue
8432 Westminster Blvd, just west of Westminster/Newland
Bun Cha is really good at Vien Dong, that is the only thing I get there....sorry
Oh they also have this deep fried sweet potato that is good as well
If you're saying your guy doesn't care for the "usual fish sauce dip" then I'd probably go with Xanh. I've enjoyed both for different reasons, but Xanh definitely has some more creative dishes; interesting takes on classics and more. Also a better presentation and ambiance for a date night.
Well, they're very different.
Xanh is an "A" class restaurant and a great place for a date -- as upscale as Little Saigon gets, linen napkins, décor, a VERY accessible menu (to non-Viet people), gracious service. It's also twice the price of Vien Dong, more or less, but it's still a great deal (our bill for two people is usually in the $40-$50 range for two courses and a shared dessert, no alcohol).
Vien Dong is a "B"/"C" class restaurant, meaning that you go up to the counter to pay -- English is spoken, sort of (you stand a better chance with the younger waiters, honestly), but it's paper napkins.
Both places have things that traditionally come with nuoc cham, but there are more non-nuoc cham things at Xanh, like the incredible orange roughy with mango salad, or the ca kho to.
The bun cha Ha Noi at Vien Dong comes with a papaya-flavoured riff on nuoc cham that's turned into this fantastic thing by the smokiness of the grilled meat floating in it. If your guy doesn't like that either, I suggest the cha ca thanh long (turmeric-marinated catfish with dill) -- unbelievably tasty, and the nuoc cham comes on the side so he can ignore it all he wants.
Frankly, I love them both... but I'd send you to Xanh because they need the business more than Vien Dong, which has been in Little Saigon for 30+ years.
re: Das Ubergeek
I just went to Xanh Bistro tonight, thanks for the recommendations and descriptions. Yes, it is a good place for a date. Very neat, clean, and friendly service. It wasn't too crowded, but we went around 6pm.
The "Vietnamese Horchata" was a disappointment. It's just soymilk with horchata spices... wish i had read about what was in it beforehand. My date had the bun with egg rolls/chicken which was pretty standard and impossible to screw up. The egg rolls included were not as great as the descriptions I've heard on here. Maybe the appetizer rolls are different? The 5-spice beef was good, but I was expecting something fried, haha :) The meat was very tender and the bitter greens it was served on went well with the dish. We had the chocolate souffle afterwards which was nice -- but I think the hibiscus "tea" was unnecessary and didn't add anything to the layout except filling in the 3rd spot in the 3-compartment plate.
All in all, its a great place to go on a date -- it gives you some conversation starters with the Horchata shenanigans and "high end" take on vietnamese food.