A good Vietnamese meal is all about what might be called a unity of opposites. Deep, funky flavors are offset with mint and basil. The smoky char of grilled meats is leavened by tangy pickles. And proportion is everything—even if you’re eating rich preparations of pork, you’re ingesting only a small amount at a time, using lettuce leaves to bundle it into wraps. This always-slammed Eden Center restaurant is conversant in all the dominant regional styles and exhibits a broad mastery, whether with the vivid salads, the hearty noodle bowls, or the clay-pot casseroles (most memorably, a bubbling vessel of pork in peppery caramel sauce).
Where you can get it: 6775 Wilson Blvd., 703-538-3888
Also good: Beef-stuffed grape leaves; thrice-cooked chicken with coconut rice; bun cha, grilled pork and pork meatballs in a sweet sauce; fried “rocket” shrimp.