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100 Best Restaurants 2012: Present
From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Cynthia Hacinli, Ann Limpert, Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published January 23, 2012
Cheap Eats (2010) 100 Best Restaurants 2012 Cheap Eats 2011 100 Best Restaurants (2011) 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Present
Address: 6678 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, VA 22042
Phone: 703-531-1881
Neighborhood: Falls Church
Cuisines: Vietnamese
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Thursday 11 to 3. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5 to 10. Open for lunch and dinner Friday and Saturday 11 to 11, Sunday 11 to 10.
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes A hash of clams served in a giant sesame shell; any of the masterful soups, including the Sour Spicy Seafood; a rendition of “shaky” beef called Cow on the Open Field, tossed in a complex and zingy sauce; banh xeo.

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The ornate, banquet-style presentations appear to be a thing of the past here, but it was never the show that endeared this Vietnamese restaurant to us. It was the cooking, which remains a feast of textural contrasts and colors brimming with popping flavors.

Few family-run ethnic restaurants possess this degree of style. With lacquered tables, ceramic floors, and a tinkling fish pond, it's ideal for a special occasion or a night of catching up with friends. The menu, which has a penchant for giving Vietnamese standards corny-sounding names, is several pages long. The staff is eager to provide guidance, but be forewarned: You're likely to be talked out of something interesting and led to more familiar dishes.

What to get: Clam-and-beef hash with garlic and ginger in a giant sesame cracker; crispy autumn rolls stuffed with pork and prawns; a crepe brimming with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and mint; shaky beef with lightly sautéed onions and crunchy watercress; clay pot of sliced pork or caramelized short ribs; purple-yam soup with pork and shrimp; Hanoi-style fish with dill, peanuts, and mint.

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/23/2012 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews