6785 Wilson Blvd.
Falls Church, VA 22044
Neighborhood: Falls Church
Open Sunday through Thursday 10 AM to 10 PM; Friday and Saturday 10 AM to 11 PM.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Price Range: Inexpensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Shrimp and pork spring rolls; “underdone” shaved beef; lotus root salad with shrimp and pork; roasted quail; tamarind-and-shrimp soup; banh xeo; vermicelli with grilled shrimp, beef, or pork; caramel shrimp; butter-fried frog's legs; grilled beef with lem
Appetizers $3.95 to $15.95, entrées $7.95 to $23.95.
Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Good for Groups
The parking lot of the Eden Center, the hub of Northern Virginia’s Vietnamese community, becomes a traffic jam on weekends. To understand why, peek into this cash-only dining room. You’ll think you’ve wandered into a boisterous family reunion: two-year-olds and grandmas, teens and parents crowd together at long cafeteria tables happily passing steaming bowls and flopping crepes and dishes of nuoc mam.
The menu is long and varied, and the food comes out fast, but the renditions of central and southern Vietnamese cuisine never taste rushed. Sour and sweet, crunchy and tender, warm and cool are all in balance. Salads made from crisp lotus root get a smoky counterpoint from folds of cold pork. A roasted quail, its lacquered skin brightened by a drop of lime and ground pepper, is best eaten right off the bone. Frog’s legs crisped in butter are as light as we’ve tasted and come dressed with fresh cilantro and mint. Greaseless spring rolls stuffed with pork are standard-setters. It’s tempting to make a meal of starters, but then you’d miss the tangy soups (try the sweet-and-sour-shrimp version), the springy wide noodles, the lemongrass pork, and the caramel hot pots of fish and pork stoked with chilies.
Restaurants come and go at the Eden Center, but this one has endured longest. And it’s still the best reason to jockey for a parking space on a Sunday morning.