100 Best Restaurants 2011: Minh’s

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

For diners new to Vietnamese food, a trip to this gem of a restaurant offers an excellent précis of the vividness and complexity in one of the world’s great cuisines. But even those accustomed to the flavors are likely to experience a jolt or two because the cooking at Anh Nguyen’s place is more intense—brighter, smokier—than that of its many competitors.

The marvelous bun cha, a noodle bowl with grilled pork, is juicy and irresistible. Look for the dishes meant to be bundled into leaves of fresh lettuce, then dipped in the tangy nuoc mam, a nicely balanced sauce of fermented fish, vinegar, and chilies. Shrimp-and-yam fritters are one such dish, and they’re a must-order.

Forgo the Western-style desserts in favor of the superb Vietnamese coffee, brewed on the premises and served hot or over ice.

Also good: Crispy half-moon crepe, to be broken and folded into lettuce leaves; bun thit nuong, Southern-style grilled pork with vermicelli; caramel chicken or fish; grilled, lemongrass-flavored short ribs.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants

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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 Logan Circle.