The kitchen works with the speed of a short-order operation, and the staff zips around the mess-hall-style room like roller-skating servers at a ’50s drive-in. But please don’t draw an equivalency between speed and slipshod at this cash-only gem. The kitchen at Huong Viet, the oldest restaurant at the Eden Center—Washington’s de facto Little Vietnam—remains as sure-handed as ever, whipping up plates of big, bright flavors with a precision and consistency sometimes lacking in bolder-face restaurants. All the hits are here, from lacquered quail to the complex noodle salad known as bun to the yolk-colored pancakes called bánh xèo.
Where you can get it: 6785 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church; 703-538-7110
Also good: Bun cha (grilled pork and pork meatballs in a sweet sauce); caramel clay-pot fish.