Tag Archives: restaurant

Pho Cong Ly Annandale

9 May

When we relocated to the Springfield area, we were excited to be near one of his favorite Vietnamese restaurants from years ago. Unfortunately, Pho Cong Ly Backlick Road had closed up shop and left before we were able to move in. Imagine my delight when driving to Annandale I noticed a Pho Cong Ly sign in another shopping center off Braddock Road.

We scoped it out last week as I was in dire need of pho. True to his memory, the cha gio (crispy spring rolls) are still top notch. The goi cuon (summer rolls) rice paper rolls were too wet and breaking apart. Tasty, but broken. Hey, it was 8:30 PM and they closed at 9. I’ve learned not to expect the best when folks are trying to close up for the night.

Their pho was OK, but per usual Pho 75 is still the winner. We’ll definitely be back for other dishes as it’s closer than trekking to Eden Center for other prepared dishes when I don’t want to cook.

It appears as though they’ve adopted a new management style, which means a sparkling restaurant, merchandise (Cha Gio T-shirts, anyone?) and credit card machines. FTW.

Check them out:

6920-I Braddock Rd
Annandale, VA 22003

(703) 712-8355

Tucked in the back corner near Gold’s Gym.

PhoWheels DC Lunchbreak

20 Apr

I have a healthy appetite and can put away some serious food. PhoWheels DC put me to the test, and won the first round. Although I work at the epicenter of tourism in DC, there are little to no food options nearby. Thankfully the DC food truck scene makes it easier to have a great lunch of nearly anything you could want, just a short Metro ride away. The line was short, and food came fast.

When given the option, I almost always go with pork belly. Theirs is 5-spice rubbed and piled high inside split french bread. They also have a croissant sub roll, which I’ll have to try next. I’m also a sucker for add-on eggs. The Sous Vide fried poached egg is amazing, and completely indulgent.

Pork Belly Banh Mi with Fried Poached Egg on top and Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Honestly, I only made it through half of the banh mi – eating the entire egg, of course. It was delicious, although the Do Chua (pickled carrot and daikon radish) was on the bland side. Major fan of the thin strips of cucumber. Too many Banh Mi spots overlook this essential ingredient.

The cà phê sữa đá (ca fe sue-uh da), Vietnamese Iced Coffee, reminds me of an ice cream version. Perfect for the hot early spring day.

I’ve long been a fan of the spork – a far superior to their independent brothers. PhoWheels have CHORKS. Chopsticks + Fork = genius.  Seriously?


Another bonus, they prepare amazing Vietnamese dishes off the truck. Check out their Instagram channel for inspiration.


On the Hunt for Lau Thai

12 Apr

The joy of cooking Vietnamese food at home is that we can enjoy what we want any time and without having to travel to Eden Center or elsewhere. And the service is pretty good, too. There are a few dishes, however, that aren’t quite ready for their in-home debut.  Lau Thai (L-ow Thai), or Thai-style hot pot, is one of those dishes. I don’t have the equipment and haven’t yet looked in to the broth.

The future Mr. had a craving for hotpot so after my bootcamp we drove out to Eden Center. We were shocked to see our go-to hotpot spot Viet Bistro shuttered and empty. Such are the woes of business in Eden Center. Many of the restaurants close after several years (or months) for whatever reason. I hear rent is pretty high and competition is fierce. We turned to another favorite restaurant to give their hotpot a try.

Nha Trang is located in the Saigon East section of interior stores – it is Store #8 in the inner corridor through the doors to the left of Princess Diamonds and to the right of Cho Eden grocery store. This restaurant has our favorite Nem Nuong (rice paper rolls with grilled pork patties, crunchy eggroll wrapper and the delectable orange dipping sauce). I tried these at home, and they were tasty, but nowhere near as good as Nha Trang.

Rice paper rolls with grilled pork patties

Nem Nuong Cuon

Their Lau Thai comes in either nhỏ (nyaw) small,  or large. The small is $35, which is cheaper than Viet Bistro’s, but that doesn’t matter anymore. Small is plenty for two even without other dishes. Their version comes with squid, several types of fish cakes, these weird-wormlike shrimp cake things, fish, shrimp, snail, okra and the other usual veggies. Mussels were missing, which we usually enjoy, but there was plenty else.

Lau Thai seafood hotpot

Nha Trang serves their hotpot with both rice and egg noodles. I was a good girl and asked for watercress to eat instead of the noodles. I’m sure the broth has more sugar and salt than I’ve had all week, but making all of the changes and choices I can!

Watercress, Egg and Rice noodles

Check out this beautiful bowl of tasty bites. The broth is tangy, sweet, sour, and rich. Perfect flavor balance with the peppery watercress, napa cabbage, as well as the strong okra and tomato flavors.

Thai Style Hotpot


Seaside’s Eden

28 Feb

Since we moved to Alexandria and I’ve been cooking more at home, we haven’t been making as many trips to Eden Center. I don’t miss it now that I’m generally able to make our Vietnamese cravings. But after another killer day at the office (wait, it’s only Wednesday?!), I was craving crawfish to make everything better and we made the trip to Seaside Crab House.

They’ve changed their recipes a few times over the past year and have more recently added soup and noodle dishes to the menu. We go for the crawfish. I order medium, he gets hot, and we both ask for less garlic. One pound each. So rich and tasty (you know, like the other place – Hot N Juicy – only much easier to get to for Virginia folk).

1 pound bag of medium heat crawfish

1 pound bag of medium heat crawfish

The conch salad, grilled clams and boiled snails with ginger are in our regular rotation, but today was a soft shell crab kind of night. I think the breading has lemongrass, which is an instant winner in my book.

Fried soft shell crab with green peppers, onions and tomatoes on a bed of crispy lettuce.

Fried soft shell crab with green peppers, onions and tomatoes on a bed of crispy lettuce.

I know it isn’t the healthiest cooking method, but I really do need to learn how to fry better. It’s so damn good – from time to time. Everything seems to burn and not cook through, or get soggy. Any tips?

You can’t have a full meal without rice. This time we opted for the combination version, but think we’ll stick with old faithful crab fried rice in the future.  Theirs is tasty but not as fluffy – too much oil. I prefer Thuan’s.

Combination Fried Rice

Combination Fried Rice – see the orange bits? That’s tasty roe.

After one pound of crawfish, fried soft shell crab and rice, the work week got better. And look Ma, no chips!


Here’s the info:

Eden Center

6799 Wilson Blvd, Ste 5

Falls Church, VA 22044

(703) 241-2722

The restaurant is towards the front of Eden Center, between the two arches. Great place to hang out in warmer weather on the outdoor patio with buckets of Heineken’s and multiple rounds of food. Check out their lau thai (Thai style Vietnamese hot pot) on cooler days. More reviews on Yelp.


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