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New Yorker coming to DC for 5 days and looking for great ethnic food

I really want great vietnamese food, am VERY familiar with it and intrigued by Eden Center posts but none of the restaurants sound great. Am willing to travel for great food and have a car so that is no problem. I was also intrigued by Burma Road another cuisine I love but is it really authentic? What else can you recommend anywhere in the DC/VA area. Also any good southern style places for breakfast or brunch would be greatly appreciated by a northerner who can never get enough grits and biscuits.

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Eden Center
Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

Burma Road
617 S Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

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  1. I think any good Vietnamese restaurant in DC will be heads and shoulders above the ones in NYC. I would recommend Present in Falls Church or Four Sisters in Merrifield, both in VA. Nice atmosphere and good service, with really good food.

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    Four Sisters Restaurant
    8190 Strawberry Ln Ste 1, Falls Church, VA 22042

    3 Replies
    1. re: dpan

      Myanmar in Falls Church is a good one also. I'm no judge of authenticity, but the food is tasty.

      1. re: flavrmeistr

        Myanmar has the best green papaya salad and chili belly pork! a9awhen they say hot, they mean it!)

      2. re: dpan

        I would take issue with statement. Pho Pasteur on Baxter St in NYC's Chinatown blows away anything I've encoutered at the Eden Center, both in terms of price and quality.

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        Eden Center
        Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

        Pho Pasteur
        133 E Annandale Rd, Falls Church, VA 22046

      3. Do Eden Center - from the sound of your post. Otherwise I would say Nam Viet in Clarendon .

        For Southern breakfast (Southern other would be easier), um, I would only guide you to Virginia Kitchen, but that's in Herndon and - while good - not worth the drive for an out of towner.

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        Eden Center
        Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

        Nam Viet Restaurant
        3419 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., washington, dc, DC 20008

        1. Many a good meal can be had at Eden Center.

          My favorite right now would be at Nha Trang. Get the noodle dish with shrimp paste "in the shape of worms." This is a soup, though I don't think it's listed as a soup on the menu. Also get appetizer #7, I think, which is their special garden rolls - may be listed as ground pork wrapped in rice paper. Other good orders are the bo luc lac (ask for the pepper lime dipping sauce), the roast quail, and the minced clams on sesame cracker.

          If you don't mind a more third-world experience with maybe some language difficulties, then go to Bay Lo (also at Eden Center) for the "miscellaneous salad", the fried goat roll (a misnomer) and the Bay Lo 7 special, which is the classic bun cha hanoi.

          I don't think either of the above stays open real late, so don't push it.

          Go to Myanmar in Falls Church, VA for your Burmese fix. The ginger salad is a MUST ORDER. Many other fine dishes, including the whole roast fish (ordered spicy), the chicken noodle soup with coconut, tomato tofu, watercress fritters, and the okra. A couple of other interesting salads include the chickpea salad (with gravy) and the shrimp and bean sprout salad. Skip the nan jee thoke. There is the important condiment of dried shrimp and garlic, balachaung, which needs to be ordered separately. Cost is about $5. This will give you the taste of Burma you are looking for.

          I can't say any of these places will be as good as a trip to SE Asia, but I think they make for great DC area eating.

          www.edencenter.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: Steve

            The green tea salad at Myanmar is also great. One or the other. I prefer the green tea one, but love the ginger salad as well.

          2. The best soul food isn't open for breakfast or brunch - get to Oohs and Ahhs on U Street!

            1. For breakfast, I think Florida Ave Grill might be what you're looking for (and it's a classic DC place): http://floridaavenuegrill.com/hours.html Also look up the breakfast at Market Lunch at Eastern Market. If those aren't what you're looking for, possibly Georgia Brown's brunch is (I haven't been to it, but you can find info here).

              I can't imagine you'd be disappointed by Eden Center.

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              Eden Center
              Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

              Market Lunch
              225 7th St SE Ste 12, Washington, DC 20003

              Georgia Brown's
              950 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

              1 Reply
              1. re: mselectra

                Try Levi's Port Cafe for southern food its the best in the city

              2. I only saw this one the front page news feed otherwise it would've gone completely under my Outer Boroughs and UK/Ireland radar.

                Does DC have an established Uighur restaurant yet? The general area around DC has by far the largest Uighur community in the US. It's not exactly Istanbul or Munich, but they're there in the thousands. NYC had an excellent Uighur stall owned and operated by a man from Ghulja, but it closed and the mall it was in soon followed. I would literally fly in for the day if there was a good Uighur place to hit up.

                Justin

                1 Reply
                1. re: JFores

                  I don't think anything "proper" yet, but the most relevant thread is here:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/671298

                2. Wish this thread exised before we went to Eden Center a couple weeks ago. We had a great time but some of these tips sound awesome. Will post a link to the recap next week. The standout dish we had was probably the quail at Huong Viet.

                  Anyway, I don't know how interested you are in African cuisines, but DC is rich with Ethiopian restaurants. A little more off the beaten path is Sumah's, a killer hole in the wall joint run by a man from Sierra Leone. The pepper soup is liquid fire and the stewed dishes with fufu are just incredible.

                  And I'm not sure how it hasn't been mentioned yet but read the legendary CH thread on Grace Garden near Fort Meade. Truly one of the finest restaurants anywhere near here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/520156

                  A cool cuisine that we've just recently discovered is Indo-Chinese, which you can get at Mirchi Wok: http://www.urbanitebaltimore.com/balt...

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                  Eden Center
                  Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

                  Grace Garden
                  1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                  Mirchi Wok
                  6365 Dobbin Rd Ste A, Columbia, MD 21045

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: kukubura

                    They also have a small list of Insdo-Chinese dishes at Saravana Palace in Fairfax, a purely vegetarian South Indian restaurant. They are very spicy and very good.

                    1. re: Steve

                      You illustrated the point I made below! Sounds good!

                      FYI, Mirchi Wok is part of a two-in-on restaurant thing along with Mango Grove (which is pure vegetarian). You can order from both menus. I don't remember exactly but we were slightly confused trying to find the indo-chinese items specifically in the package of menu options they offer. But it was worth it. Good stuff. Chilli Paneer!

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                      Mango Grove
                      6365 Dobbin Rd, Columbia, MD 21045

                      Mirchi Wok
                      6365 Dobbin Rd Ste A, Columbia, MD 21045

                    2. re: kukubura

                      kukubura,

                      Just wondering, I love Grace Garden, both for food and the whole set up, but have you been to Hong Kong Palace? I've followed you to some extent on the board, but I didn't want to search for an hour to find out?

                      Also - I hope to set up at least a small lunch very soon at GG (wanted to last week but the only respondent couldn't then). I'm up that way about twice a week, so sometime soon?

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                      Hong Kong Palace
                      6387 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044

                      Grace Garden
                      1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                      1. re: Dennis S

                        Haven't been there yet but it's on the list. For every place I love there's always another place that I need to check out to give it context. Ack! So much good food to eat!

                        1. re: kukubura

                          Well I'm going to try to meet up with at least dpan soon at GG. But I'm so up for just about any excuse at HKP. HKP defiinitely requires multiple people to fully enjoy.

                    3. I believe Creme Cafe serves brunch, it is good southern food. Georgia Browns is ok, but not what you want. Blacksalt used to have a great shrimp and grits for brunch, but I don't know if they still have it, they have good biscuits too.

                      I had a great time eating my way through the Eden Center eating what looked good here and there, but if you want to eat all at one place then I would say Present or Four Sisters too.

                      I love all the Korean BBQ joints in the Annandale area, I just never get tired of Korean BBQ done well. My favorite so far has been Han Gang.

                      I haven't been to the Lao menu at Bangkok Golden in Falls Church, but I know Steve has.

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                      Eden Center
                      Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

                      Bangkok Golden
                      9503 Livingston Rd, Fort Washington, MD 20744

                      Four Sisters Restaurant
                      8190 Strawberry Ln Ste 1, Falls Church, VA 22042

                      Georgia Brown's
                      950 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                      1. I too am from NYC. I personally would not recommend Four Sisters or Present. I think you can get better at the Eden Center. I have two places that are excellent in mind. The first is called Hai Duong. They have an excellent spicy goat curry called De Xao Lan, it is a special, not on the menu, here is the thread:

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/731906

                        Hai Duong also has excellend Bun Bo Hue, and the cold duck salad as well as an excellent broken rice soup with pork heart/offal.

                        The second place I love is called Saigon Cafe and is across the street from Eden Center. They are the ONLY central Vietnamese restaurant in the area. They specialize in Hue cuisine. There Bun Bo Hue is outstanding. They are also famous for #36 Banh Beo Chen. Every time I have gone there, every table has this appetizer. Make sure to pour fish sauce and fresh peppers on them.

                        The other dish I love there is the Banh Khaoi (#45), Hue Pancake. Her version of this dish is spectacular. I prefer it to every other version I have had. It is very crispy and the meats are cooked into the pancake more. I can't order it anywhere else now. It is the best. Also, in Hue they serve this with the peanut sauce instead of fish sauce, I always spike it with her homemade chili sauce.

                        One last note about Saigon Cafe, if you go be sure to ask for the homemade chili sauce. Don't bother with that sambal on the table. Her homemade sauce is amazing. It is also extremely hot, but if you can handle the heat, the flavor is amazing.

                        Lastly, I noticed recently that Tay Do is doing Vietnamese BBQ. They have table top grills like a Korean BBQ. I have not tried it, but if you want to explore it may be something you can tell me about. Also, Tay Do has an excellent Bun Cha Hanoi. I prefer it to the one at Bay Lo.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sekelmaan

                          Agreed! Saigon Cafe is definitely my favorite Eden Center destination. Consistently impressive.

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                          Eden Center
                          Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

                          1. re: hamster

                            Yes, another thing I like about it is that it does not feel like a cafeteria which most places do. The staff and the owners are super nice. It is an elegant place which does not cater to the non-Vietnamese community like I feel Present and Four Sisters do (dumbing down the food).

                        2. Good to know about Saigon Cafe. I regularly go to Eden Center but never ventured across the street. As far as Burma Cafe in Chinatown, it is worth visiting. While the decor is, to be honest, poor at best (but clean) the food is fresh, well prepared and nicely priced. Not super gourmet, but given the Burmese options in DC a nice option for something different that most chowhounders would find nice if judged on food/price alone.

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                          Eden Center
                          Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

                          1. Here's a piece about Eden Center from today: http://www.urbanitebaltimore.com/balt...

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                            Eden Center
                            Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

                            1. I am surprised nobody has mentioned Huong Viet restaurant (Eden Center) in this post. The place has been around for over 20 years and the food and service has been consistent. I was there as recently as 2 weeks ago. I would recommend any of the skewered pork dishes (can be with noodles, rice, or rice cakes) or the grilled beef with lemongrass flavoring (can be eaten with rice or noodles). The restaurant also serves excellent cha gio and soft noodles with seafood/meat (mi xao men thap cam/thit). You can judge the popularity of the restaurant by the everynight crowd there ( a lot of vn and some caucasians). The other restaurants mentioned in the post such as Saigon Cafe, Hai Duong are also pretty good.

                              If you are in Falls Church, I do not recommend Present or Four Sisters as their taste have leaned to the American palate.
                              I would be interested to hear comments from viewers about their experience with the mentioned restaurant.

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                              Huong Viet Restaurant
                              6785 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044

                              Four Sisters Restaurant
                              8190 Strawberry Ln Ste 1, Falls Church, VA 22042

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Trungtr

                                Many good and interesting Vietnamese choices in that area, with Huong Viet certainly being in the mix. I am not sure I find any one place satisfying for everything, more that I pick and choose places depending on what I'm interested in eating.

                                I tend to recommend one place over another for specific items that I find go above and beyond. I remember being VERY impressed with a large sweet and sour seafood soup at Houng Viet, but I think it is something like $17, and I am unlikely to order it if I am by myself for lunch.

                                My problem with Present is that they are very much willing to sacrifice flavor for presentation. No matter how fancy the shape of the sesame cracker, it doesn't do any good to order the minced clams if the cracker is stale. And I've never had a satisfying meal at Four Sisters. The last time I ordered a fish with steamed rice paper, the rice paper was serve cold and piled on top of each other so that it was one huge block of starch. It was actively cynical: 'you probably don't know how it's supposed to be served, so why bother?'

                                1. re: Trungtr

                                  The link in the post just above yours focuses on Huong Viet.

                                  -----
                                  Huong Viet Restaurant
                                  6785 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA 22044

                                2. Steve neglected to mention the excellent Laotian restaurant hidden inside a Thai restaurant called Bangkok Golden, across from Eden Center. Fortunately someone else mentioned it. :D

                                  A few doors down from there is one of my favorite Sichuan places, Chengdu Small Restaurant, known to people who can't read as "Hong Kong Palace." They have any number of things I haven't found on menus in either Boston or NYC, many of which are listed only on the Chinese specials board, but the staff is usually quite willing to translate for you.

                                  Further afield, but on your way home to NYC, I highly recommend Grace Garden in Odenton, and Hunan Taste in Catonsville, either of which is a candidate for best overall Chinese restaurant I know. HT is far better than the two Hunan options I know of in NYC< namely The Grand Sichuan on St. Mark's, and Hunan House in Flushing. One of the current specials at HT is fresh wild-caught baby turtle, for a mere $40.

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                                  Grace Garden
                                  1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                                  Hunan Taste
                                  718 N Rolling Rd, Catonsville, MD 21228