Dirt Cheap Eats 2008: Hai Duong

Tucked away near the entrance to the Eden Center, this brightly lit Vietnamese cafe is a cheapskate’s dream. Most plates ring up under $8, and the hours—daily 9 to 9—make just about any meal possible. Pho ($7.95), the fragrant beef noodle soup traditionally eaten for breakfast, is done as well here as at any area pho parlors. The complex broth perfumed with star anise and loaded with cuts of beef, sprouts, and noodles is a meal in a bowl, especially when you personalize it with chili peppers and basil leaves. The house special, com dia, is a big plate of crushed rice with shredded pork, grilled pork chop, egg quiche, and fried egg ($7.95). Crisp spring rolls ($3.25) and the classic Vietnamese crepe filled with scallion, sprouts, and bits of pork and shrimp ($7.95) show the kitchen’s finesse with the deep fryer. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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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.