Tag Archives: Vietnamese

Pho 14 — Lunch on 24 December 2019

Pho 14

Pho 14

I hadn’t planned to go out for lunch on the day before Christmas.

When I started to review my “Xmas To-Do” list, though, I realised that I had to make a final run to Giant to pick up a few ingredients that I’d somehow overlooked. And I had to do it now, because I was planning a high-end elegant gourmet tres-fancy meal, and those Gorton’s Breaded Seafood Fishsticks take all night to defrost.

I’d heard good things about Pho 14, the little Vietnamese restaurant about a block from the supermarket, and decided to give it a try. There was a time when I practically lived on Vietnamese food, but over the past few years, without really thinking about it, I’ve become more likely to opt for Thai. Pho 14 would remind me of what I’d been missing.

Combination Platter

Combination Platter

I had the Combination Platter, with stir-fried beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp. Nicely done, very filling, and much better than fishsticks.

Goodbye to Nam Viet

Less than a week after I posted an ecstatic note about revisiting Nam Viet, an old favourite restaurant that had dropped off my radar, the management announced that they would be closing after 20 years.

Nam Viet was founded by Nguyen Van Thoi, whose life story could be the basis for an epic HBO miniseries. When he died in 2005, the Washington Post published this incredible obituary.

The walls at Nam Viet held pictures of Mr. Nguyen and many of the military and political leaders who were his friends and patrons, like Attorney General Janet Reno and Senator John McCain. There are also group pictures of some of the men who attended the annual dinner for American POWs that Mr. Nguyen held at his restaurant.

(Mr. Nguyen had spent two years in a “re-education” camp after the fall of Saigon, and later escaped Vietnam in a small fishing boat.)


Trying to make up for lost time—at least a little bit—I had lunch at Nam Viet twice during its final week on Connecticut Avenue.

Caramelized Pork

Caramelized Pork

The Caramelized Pork was one of the chef’s specialties. It was made with tender pieces of pork shoulder sautéed in Nam Viet’s homemade fish sauce reduction, with onions and fresh cracked black pepper,

Shrimp Toast

Shrimp Toast

In one of the many online postings about Nam Viet’s closing, a customer raved about the Shrimp Toast, so I decided to give it a try. It was so good that I had it as my starter for both lunches.

It’s made with deep-fried ground shrimp pâté, spread on a sesame baguette.

I mean, just look at it!

Curried Seafood

Curried Seafood

My final meal at the restaurant. Vietnamese Seafood Curry, made with carrots, snap peas, potatoes, ginger, lemongrass, and yellow coconut milk curry. The seafood was a medley of calamari, shrimp, and scallop.


There is a silver lining. Though the DC Nam Viet has closed, for now, at least, the original restaurant is still open in Clarendon, Virginia. It’s a considerably longer distance away, but it’s worth the trip.

Nam Viet — Lunch on 6 June 2017

There was a long period when I probably averaged about five meals in Vietnamese restaurants for every hamburger I ate. (This was before hamburgers went upscale.)

Nam Viet, in Cleveland Park, was one of my default choices when I wanted an excellent and not-too-expensive meal, but it’s been at least two years since I last visited.

My loss.

I was in the neighbourhood yesterday, dropping off equipment at the Comcast service center—I’ve finally cut the cord on overpriced cable! Nam Viet was right across the street, and it was lunchtime.

Fried Quail

Fried Quail

I started with the fried quail appetizer, and, oh, was it good. I’d never order this unless I was dining alone, because eating quail is even messier than eating lobster. Quail is small and bony—the smaller bones are actually edible—and, really, it’s finger food. Nam Viet serves it with a glazed sweet house fish sauce and caramelized onions, on a bed of lettuce.

Caramelized Chicken

Caramelized Chicken

My main, from the “Chef Specialties” menu, was a huge serving of Caramelized Chicken with fresh ginger and onions. The sautéed, all-white-meat chicken came in a lidded bowl, with a side of steamed rice.

The sauce was nothing less than amazing—sweet and rich and syruppy. I wanted to taste every drop.

All in all, this was one of the best meals I’ve had in months. I’m thinking of making lunch at Nam Viet a once-a-week appointment for June and July.

Local Boy Makes Good

Alex McCoy.  Photo from the Food Network

Alex McCoy. Photo from the Food Network.

I’ve raved before—most recently, just a month ago—about Duke’s Grocery, the East London-inspired Dupont Circle restaurant that serves the best sandwiches, aka “sarnies,” in Washington.  I just learned this week that Alex McCoy, one of the Duke’s co-founders and original chefs, is a contestant on this summer’s Food Network Star, a reality show that selects one of the competitors to have a shot at getting a program on the Food Network.  You can watch episodes of Food Network Star on Sunday nights.  The first episode is also streaming on the linked web site.

I’m not a big fan of the Food Network.  After all, these are the people who unleashed the appalling Guy Fieri on a helpless nation.  And that’s not the worst thing they’ve ever done.

No, wait.  Yes it is.

Anyhow, I wish Alex McCoy well.  In his honour, I had lunch at Duke’s this afternoon.

Ca Tre Bánh Mi

Ca Tre Bánh Mi

This is a variation on a Vietnamese classic sandwich.  It’s made with marinated catfish, cucumber, green chili, “five spice water” (I have no idea), pickle daikon, and lots of coriander.  It was good, and different, but it wasn’t one of my favorites, like the Lamb Kofta, the incredible Munchen Brötchen, or the justly famous Proper Burger, all pictured below.  Click to embiggen.

Miss Saigon — Lunch on 29 April 2014

Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon

I used to be a regular at the long-gone Adams Morgan branch of Miss Saigon, but it’s been a while since my last visit to the Georgetown incarnation.

Soup du Jour

Soup du Jour

They had Soup du Jour on the menu, and that’s always been one of my favourites.   (Sorry, that joke is ancient).  I’m not sure what this soup is really named, but it had the same flavour profile as Thai Tom Yum, and it was excellent.

Potato-Wrapped Shrimp

Potato-Wrapped Shrimp

The shrimp were wrapped in shredded potatoes, then deep fried.  This worked well.   I’d never had these before, but I want to try them again.

Saigon Grilled Beef

Saigon Grilled Beef

Classic steak-on-a-stick.