50 Best Restaurants 2018: Nam-Viet

A Vietnamese restaurant in Arlington

Nam Viet
Photo by Rey Lopez

There’s a seasonal shrub on the menu of Nam-Viet. Though shrubs have been around since Colonial times, the fruity vinegar-based drink’s comeback is usually found on the shelves of boutique shops or in $14 cocktails. But here it is, at Nam-Viet, which opened 30-plus years ago, and a pineapple-hibiscus version feels like the crash of waves on Oahu’s North Shore: shocking and cooling all it once. Its renovations last year focused on the physical space and the drinks menu, though the food was left alone. And that’s good. The catch-all appetizer plate is where to start—expertly fried rolls, sweet and savory strips of lemongrass beef, shrimp pate baked into bread—but also add on a pile of house-made tofu, fried and salt-and-peppered and somehow light and almost-juicy. When soft-shell crabs are in season, the fried bits are awakened from a dip in a vinegary lemon-pepper sauce. Speaking of enhancements, for that starter platter, everyone at the table was brought out an individual portion of two different sauces. A thoughtful act, indeed.

Vietnamese | $$
1127 N Hudson St, Arlington

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