With nothing to eat in the fridge my roommate suggests we head off to Vietnam Restaurant on 11th Street located between Race and Vine.
Be advised: across the street is a restaurant called Vietnam Palace. The real royal dining experience is at Vietnam Restaurant.
Vietnam Restaurant has been in Philadelphia for nearly 20 years.
The family-run operation has become so popular that people wait in line to eat at the restaurant that combines fine dining and casual prices.
Vietnam Restaurant was renovated in 1999.
Light and airy, the interior feels like a townhouse rather than a restaurant.
The hardwood floors, white linen curtains and pale yellow walls make for an elegant, yet quaint, dining experience.
The extensive menu has more than 100 items.
I suggest visiting the restaurant Web site at www.eatatvietnam.com beforehand.
Otherwise, ordering might take you awhile.
Even the beverage list bewildered me.
Ten minutes passed before I could make a decision. In addition to soda, Vietnam Restaurant boasts exotic drinks (nonalcoholic) containing various fruits, coconut milk, teas and coffees.
I chose the Che Ba Mau (rainbow ice). It consists of layers of red bean, yellow bean, coconut milk, green gelatin strips and crushed ice.
That taste alone sold me on Vietnam Restaurant and I haven’t even ordered an appetizer yet.
For an appetizer I chose the Nem Nuong (Grilled Meatballs).
It’s presented with wedges of ground pork, mint, cucumbers, carrots and lettuce that you wrap in rice paper and dip in plum sauce.
This is a phenomenal dish everyone must try.
The Hu Tieu Xao Ga (Pan Fried Noodles) feature thick, flat noodles lightly fried with chicken, Chinese broccoli and bean sprouts.
The char grilled flavor dissolved my prejudice of noodles, which I find to usually be bland.
Although the dish is fried, it is light, not greasy or heavy.
Spicy food lovers have the option of ordering any dish with the lemongrass sauce.
The sauce is fiery, but crisp cauliflower, carrots, snow peas and ginger render the dish refreshing.
Although I refrained from dessert, I hear the homemade coconut ice cream is wonderful.
After my meal I felt fulfilled, not full.
Others diners appeared just as happy.
The service at Vietnam Restaurant was attentive and friendly but not the least bit intrusive.
This is my first experience with Vietnamese cuisine which is clean and flavorful.
Often there is a tendency among the public to view all Asian cuisines as one in the same.
Vietnam Restaurant is a reminder of the different cultures that can be experienced not only in Chinatown, but in the city of Philadelphia.
Bottom Line: Gather some friends, order as much food as possible, and share.
However, this place is so addicting that one will not be able to go here just once.
Amber Fairweather can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.