Cuisine: The New Age–sounding names of many of the dishes, together with the over-the-top presentations (fried shrimp dangling in an elegantly carved pineapple boat), suggests an operation founded on kitsch. But there’s plenty of steak to go with the sizzle: This energetic restaurant has emerged as one of the leaders of Vietnamese cooking, turning out dishes of complexity and refinement—dishes that, at their best, rival the efforts of non-family-style places that typically cost three times as much.
Mood: From the tinkling fountain to the lodge-like surround of wood, a serenity belies the expectation of most ethnic family-run restaurants, which tend to emphasize a stark efficiency and a minimum of atmosphere. Present aims to dazzle you, and not just on the plate.
Best for: Special occasions on the cheap.
Best dishes: A mouthwatering hash of clams served in a giant sesame shell; a spot-on preparation of bun, with grilled pork and shrimp, a nest of veggies and a twirl of vermicelli; any of the masterful soups, including the Sour Spicy Seafood; a tenderer-than-usual rendition of “shaky” beef called Cow on the Open Field, tossed in a complex and zingy sauce; the best banh xeo, or stuffed crepe, in the area.
Insider tips: Many of the dishes are large and best suited for sharing.
Open daily for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive to moderate.