Why go: American Idol may be projecting on the front wall, but the spicy, sure-handed cooking at this Eden Center gem doesn’t dish out the generic sweetness so often aimed at stateside palates.
What to get: Hash of clams and scallions with sesame-speckled rice crackers; lacquered quail with lime; caramel pork or pork ribs, the sauce as tangy with vinegar as it is sweet; aromatic lemongrass chicken; spicy Hue-style soup with slices of brisket, pig’s feet, and one scary-hot chili; rice cooked in a clay pot and topped with Chinese sausage or tofu.
Best for: Eaters who aren’t afraid of fiery flavors—or a little pork blood in their soup.
Insider tip: Hot pots—a sort of Vietnamese fondue—with mixed seafood or eel make a nice shareable dish for a small group.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.
>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here