First of all, to put things in perspective, let me address rather confess to my apprehension of Vietnamese cuisine. I had this fear of Vietnamese cuisine, biased as I believed that it primarily consists of super hot and spicy dishes (which I have yet to fancy a liking too). I do enjoy the occasional trip for Thai or Dim Sum; however will prefer to avoid South East Asian dishes if allowed to make the choice.
Finally succumbed to my family’s pleadings on Father’s Day and ventured over to Lac Viet Bistro for lunch. (Took my Benadryl in advance as that is a ritual I follow with most restaurants that offer seafood). My eyes instinctively glanced at the sleuth of awards, Lac Viet Bistro have earned over the years. To my pleasant surprise, there was no complex odor that hit me on entering the restaurant, in fact if anything the ambiance was pleasant and calm.
They do have the typical fare akin to most South Eastern Asian restaurants however, I sought the traditional Vietnamese dishes, and especially the ones which Lac Viet Bistro acknowledged as their specialty indicated by the ‘star’ next to the item listed. We ordered the Summer Roll with Shrimp, Vermicelli Noodle with Hanoi Style Pork, served with fresh Lettuce, Mints, and Peanuts, Steamed Rice Flour Crepes with Ground Pork/Mushroom/Onion topped with Pork Loaf and served with Bean Sprouts, Cucumber, and Fish Sauce, Beef Noodle Soup with Eye Round Steak, Flank, Meatball, and Chin, Singapore Noodles – Rice Noodle Sautéed with Pork, Chicken garnished with thinly sliced Eggs, Carrot, Onions with a touch of Curry, and Lemon Grass and Chili Sautéed Beef.
My first and lasting impression was the generous helpings of herbs and salads that accompany Vietnamese dishes. The beloved Noodle Soup – Pho is a complete meal in itself with choice of proteins, starch in form of vermicelli noodles and herbs and salads to top of the soup as per the diner’s choice. The broth itself was clear, exuding aromas of beef, anise, and ginger; the cut of meats were perfectly braised and tender; adding the basil, cilantro, and bean sprouts took the dish to an addictive place of delectableness. Wow!! Do I need to try any more dishes? Where was the heat I cringed from? This dish to be honest reminded me of classic French cuisine with subtle flavor and fresh ingredients.The heat comes in the form of condiments offered – Siracha, Chili Paste, and Jalapeno slices. You have a free hand at creating a personalized masterpiece suited to your palate. Me? I am satisfied simply relishing the wonderful broth and fragrance emitting from adding the herbs to the hot broth.
Even though I was satiated with the Pho, I couldn’t resist tastings of all the dishes we ordered.
The Rice Crepes with ground pork, topped with pork loaf and served with fish sauce was delicate too. A nice balance of textures was achieved by layering the dish with cucumbers and dipping in the fish sauce provided; the Singapore Noodles had just the right touch of curry; the Vermicelli Noodle with Grilled pork was yet another favorite of mine. The noodle and meat came separately, allowing the diner to create their own version of the noodles. Hmm, I am digging this concept.
After enjoying the delicate flavors of my earlier dishes, the Lemon Grass and Chili Beef dish even though was a well-balanced dish, didn’t seem as appealing to me.
Looks like Vietnamese Cuisine taught me a lesson after all. A lesson which echoes in my home constantly; one I failed to follow. ‘Always try a dish or at least take a few bites before rendering judgment’.
Lac Viet Bistro made me into their loyal advocate. The freshness of the ingredients, delicate flavors have earned this restaurant as my new favorite in terms of South Eastern Cuisine. I sincerely hope that other Vietnamese restaurants can win my heart and stomach as Lac Viet Bistro did.