100 Best Restaurants 2008: Viet Royale

No. 91: Viet Royale

Cuisine: The menu of this Eden Center mainstay amounts to a cookbook’s worth of Vietnamese dishes, from soups to crepes to stir-frys to noodle casseroles to chargrilled meats—delivered with the speed of a short-order kitchen by a staff that might not know a lot of English but knows to keep your water glass filled and your table crumb-free.

Mood: The salient feature of this big, white-walled dining room is a fish tank by the bar. All the sizzle is on the plate—quite literally in one of its best dishes, a plate of prawns in a sauce of hot coconut juice.

Best for: Group dining, quick but filling weekend lunches.

Best dishes: A hash of baby clams, minced pork, and diced garlic, to be scooped up with black sesame crackers; bite-size spare ribs braised with lemongrass; “shaky” beef, a robust stir-fry of thick cubes of soy-glazed beef with hunks of tomato, pepper, and onion; rice-flour crepes with generous fillings of shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and mint; plump, heads-on prawns in sizzling coconut juice; short ribs in black-pepper sauce.

Insider tips: The distinction between “appetizer” and “entrée” is arbitrary. Many appetizers—a plate of barely cooked, thin-sliced beef spritzed with lime juice, for example—will feed two or three.

Service: •½

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.