50 Best Restaurants 2017: Nam-Viet

A Vietnamese restaurant in Arlington

After 31 years, it took as many days (the month of August) to renovate Arlington’s Nam-Viet. The last remaining restaurant of the county’s 20th-century Little Saigon boom of Vietnamese eateries before the exodus to Eden Center, Nam-Viet still holds onto its timeless menu. Crispy spring rolls continue to fascinate diners with an almost pebbled exterior—thanks to the rice paper wrapper and two dunks in the fryer—and almost molten interior, an expert mash of crab, chicken and pork. The soup destined to dethrone pho, bun bo hue shows its heat with housemade chili oil beading on the surface. The beef and pork broth is filled with eye round, rice noodles, onions and whole leaves of cilantro for sips that are just as savory as spicy. Thinly sliced pork shoulder is sauteed in a fish sauce reduction for a sweet, salty and funky gloss speckled with black pepper, and grilled short rib is a charred strip of meat decorated in scallions and peanuts over unadulterated vermicelli, letting the beef drippings do the work of a sauce. Though the menu didn’t shift with the updated interior, there’s now a modern drink program with an Asian tilt: a Manhattan with hibiscus tea vermouth and a shandy starring China’s Lucky Buddha beer.

Vietnamese | $$
1127 N. Hudson St., Arlington

(50 Best Restaurants 2017November 2017)