Do you believe in coincidence? The Washington, DC episode of “No Reservations” aired about a week and a half before my visit to my parents, who live just outside of DC. As luck would have it, Anthony Bourdain paid a visit to a Vietnamese shopping center on the show, a place called the Eden Center. And the Eden Center is very near to my parents’ house. My love of vietnamese food has been mentioned on this blog before, and I emailed my parents and told them I wanted to check out the Center when I was in town. It turns out my folks had already been there. I couldn’t believe it.
The Eden Center is a large shopping center with nothing but Vietnamese-run restaurants, shops, barber shops, etc. After a long look around at all of the restaurants (despite the many banh mi shops, I didn’t see any vegetarian banh mi), we settled on Viet Royale. It had one of the largest menus as well as tons of vegetarian items. It ended up being a really great meal.
My quest for great vegetarian Vietnamese spring rolls here in the States has been chronicled here on the blog already. These spring rolls were perfectly crispy on the outside, though the interior contained something a little mushy. Still, they tasted great (especially after being wrapped with lettuce and basil and dipped in the sauce provided). I ate way too many of these.
I got the bun, rice noodles served at room temperature with tofu and mushrooms, as well as lettuce, bean sprouts, and marinated carrots. It was super tasty, light and refreshing.
The real star of the meal was the banh xeo my mom ordered, an egg-y Vietnamese crepe filled with straw mushrooms, bean sprouts, and tofu. I have learned from experience how to eat these — you break off a piece of the crepe and wrap it in lettuce. Like a lot of the best Vietnamese dishes this is all about contrasts: crispy and soft, hot and cold. This was fantastic.
Not everything was great. The tofu with shitakes and Chinese broccoli dish my sister got was only so-so, though the rice that came with it was awfully good. Still, overall the meal was delicious and filling.
Not so filling, though, that my sister and I couldn’t share a jackfruit bubble tea afterwards…
Viet Royale — 6767 Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA