At Nam Phuong, chef/owner Tieng Nguyen has created a decidedly more feminine feel and a greater breadth of offerings than found at its hole-in-the-wall competitors. Most servers are well-versed in the encyclopedic menu and are composed enough to lend a touch of formality to the dining experience. The ba vi -- or "three delight" -- presents a breathtaking landscape of herbs surrounded by ground beef wrapped so tightly in grape leaves that it snaps on first bite; minced shrimp balls cooked on sugarcane and split; and strips of grilled pork balls resembling sausage in texture and flavor. Vietnamese food is so much more than spring rolls and noodle soup, and Nam Phuoug offers a delicious education for those wanting to delve deeper into this beguiling cuisine.
Price: $$ ($10-$20)