Cheap Eats 2007: Minh's
Comments () | Published July 13, 2007
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Minh's
Address: 2500 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 703-525-2828
Neighborhood: Arlington, Clarendon/Courthouse, Arlington
Cuisines: Vietnamese
Opening Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday 11 to 10, Friday and Saturday 11 to 11, Sunday 11 to 10.
Nearby Metro Stops: Court House, Clarendon
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Pork vermicelli, both northern (saltier) and southern (sweeter); banh xeo; fried shrimp-and-yam patties; dill-laced catfish, to be broken into hunks and folded into giant leaves of lettuce; a clay pot of sweet/peppery caramel sauce and bits of catfish; ch

The long, thin wisp of beard gives owner Anh Nguyen the slightly mystical air of a healer. He’s not, but the cooking at his tastefully appointed Vietnamese gem on the ground floor of a Clarendon office building does have restorative properties.

Anyone tired of the goopy saucing and banal flavors of too many Asian restaurants will exult in the care that goes into such dishes as a plate of spiced short ribs still pink in the center, a sizzling skillet of catfish perfumed with dill, and skewers of char-crossed pork sided with vermicelli noodles and piles of mint and cilantro. If you were limited to pork—a bubbling cauldron of peppery caramel pork, say, or a deeply flavorful dish of grilled-pork vermicelli available either southern-style (the hunks of meat on the skewer) or northern (doused in fish sauce)—you would leave content.

There are upmarket touches seldom found in Eden Center restaurants—the Shaky Beef comes with marinated filet mignon, not ground chuck, and a thick pork chop stars in a dish of lemongrass pork—but the kitchen doesn’t dumb things down: The flavors are always vivid, clean, and fragrant.

Even desserts are full of rewards, from a cup of sweet black rice capped with salty cream to a plate of fried bananas in rum, flamed tableside. “Here comes your candle,” the waiters like to josh. Minh’s burns bright.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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Posted at 11:12 AM/ET, 07/13/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews