January 2006: Huong Viet

Teens text-message one another and toddlers hone their chopstick skills while Mom, Dad, and the grandparents sip steaming bowls of soup at this humble, pine-paneled Eden Center restaurant filled with happy noise.

2006 100 VERY BEST RESTAURANTS

THE SCENE. Teens text-message one another and toddlers hone their chopstick skills while Mom, Dad, and the grandparents sip steaming bowls of soup at this humble, pine-paneled Eden Center restaurant filled with happy noise.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Wonderful regional dishes not found in the typical Vietnamese eatery and the fact that you're likely to be the only non-native in the place. This is the real thing–the food hasn't been dumbed down or gussied up. And it's too often ignored in favor of its flashier neighbor, Huong Que.

WHAT YOU WON'T. The occasional language barrier–not all the servers speak English.

BEST DISHES. The unusual Banh Cong, a dense muffin topped with shrimp–break it into pieces, spritz with fish/hot sauce, and roll in lettuce; crunchy lotus salad with pork and shrimp; chewy stir-fried wide noodles with seafood; salty pork ribs with lemongrass; finger-licking butter-fried frog's legs; bright green Chinese watercress with bean-curd sauce.

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