Cheap Eats 2008: Huong Viet

Why go: This kitchen stands out among the more than 30 restaurants in the Eden Center because instead of doing one or two things well, it gets things right across the board, turning out complex soups, brightly flavored noodle and rice dishes, hot pots that aren’t too sugary, and greaseless crepes and pancakes.

What to get: Crisply fried spring rolls filled with shrimp and pork; a heaping plate of “underdone” shaved beef zinged with lime and cilantro; tiny roasted quail to be sprinkled with fresh lime and dipped in salt and pepper; tamarind-and-shrimp soup; banh xeo, a thin and crisp rice crepe stuffed with bean sprouts, shrimp, and pork that you bundle into a lettuce wrap with mint and cilantro; bowls of vermicelli bun topped with grilled shrimp, beef, or pork; caramel shrimp with a healthy dose of chilies.

Best for: Big groups eating family style; timid and adventurous eaters alike.

Insider tip: Bring cash—the restaurant doesn’t take credit cards, and the nearest ATM is a hike. Drinks—bubble teas, fizzy lemonade—are the thing here, not sweets. Dessert? Head a few doors down to Song Que for airy sponge cake, buttery almond cookies, and imported tropical fruits.

See all Cheap Eats 2008 restaurants  

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.