If you’re looking for incredible Vietnamese food in the DMV area, Present is an absolute must try. There’s a reason why they win award after award. Their food is second to none, and I really can’t recommend them enough! In fact, I’d go as far as to say that they have some of the best Asian food I’ve ever had. They’re family run with traditional recipes so it’s comfort food at its finest.
I started the meal off with a slew of appetizers: their silken shawl imperial autumn roll ($5), their green paradise spring roll $(5) and their treasure from the sea ($15). All three starters were delicious, but the imperial autumn roll was exceptional. It was easily one of the best rolls I’ve ever had, and I’d go back for this alone! The texture of the wrapper was unlike anything I’ve ever had. It was intricate, thin, crispy, and filled with flavorful shrimp and pork. Wrap it in lettuce and throw some pickled veggies in there before dipping it in the accompanying fish sauce for the ultimate bite.
The green paradise spring roll (pictured above) came with shrimp and pork, and it was rolled in a chewy rice wrapper filled with mint and chive. It was served with peanut sauce, and it was a refreshing way to start the meal. The dish below was the seafood salad mentioned above. It came with an assortment of goodies like fresh pineapple, julienned carrots, onions, lemongrass, shrimp, calamari and more. If you’re big into seafood, definitely give this try! Plus, it’s great for the ‘gram because the presentation’s so stunning.
Just when I thought the food couldn’t get better, it did. Out came 5 different entrees, and everything tasted as delicious as it looked. They really outdid themselves! First up, their Northern Gentlemen ($13): Du’óng Châu style fried rice with shrimp, BBQ pork, onions, scallions and fish sauce. This was super flavorful, and the rice to filling ratio was on point. There were tons of meat and veggies in each bite! If you’re not in the mood for pork, go with their Pilgrim on the Beach. That comes with jumbo lump crabmeat and shrimp so it’s perfect for seafood lovers.
Dish #2 was Basking in the Summer Sun ($25). This plate came out in a hollowed piece of bamboo and was fire, literally. My waiter lit it up for me at my table, and the flames added a beautiful smokiness to the already well-seasoned beef. I enjoyed this plate immensely, and it reminded me of Korean BBQ! Am I crazy? Try for yourself and let me know what you think.
The next entree was another favorite of mine, and it was their bún bò hué ($10), a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup with beef and pork. I really liked it because it was spicy and flavorful, but if you’re not an adventurous eater, you may want to get something else. Just giving you guys a heads up – this is made with coagulated pig blood on top of the more “standard” cuts. It’s really tasty though so give it try!
Now, here’s a shot of their Duck in Tamarind Basket ($16). This was an exquisite dish: roasted duck topped with a very special tamarind sauce. The meat was succulent, the skin was nice and crispy, and the sauce was just the right amount of sweet. A definite must try if there are duck lovers in your group!
And last but not least, their Mosaic Pathway ($14). This reminded me of japchae. Have any of you tried that Korean staple yet? The flavor profile’s obviously different, but the concept’s similar in my opinion. This had julienned tofu and cellophane noodles sautéed with egg and other delicious vegetables. I loved the texture of everything, and everything was perfectly balanced.
When I used to think of Vietnamese food, my mind would immediately jump to pho, summer rolls or banh mi, but Present really opened my eyes. The experience has inspired me to learn more about their regional cuisines, and I can’t wait to eat more. I recommend going with a big group of friends so you can taste various menu items.
For more on VA eats, make sure to browsethis tab. If you’re new to the Nomtastic Foods blog, welcome! Robby and I post fresh content every Monday, Thursday and Saturday so check back frequently for amazing food that will feed your feed. Until next time, friends!