6678 Arlington Blvd.
Falls Church, VA 22042
Neighborhood: Falls Church
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
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Not Needed
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.
You can get a good lotus salad or bowl of pho at many a Vietnamese restaurant. But a pork-and-prawn-filled spring roll encased in a handmade lattice of rice-flour batter or a shrimp salad in an intricately carved pineapple? That's unique to Gene Nguyen's lovely, waterfall-lined dining room. The plates aren't just pretty--the attention to detail shows up in the ingredients and cooking, too. A beautifully balanced green-papaya salad is set apart by threads of jerkied liver, and a mound of fried rice is dotted with lump crabmeat. If you're new to the cuisine, this is a good place to start. Servers are warm and frank, explaining the virtues of, say, caramelized pork ribs over caramelized pork slices.
Also good: Vermicelli bun with grilled pork; tamarind duck; shaky beef; fried shrimp.
Open daily for lunch and dinner.