There is a prevailing notion that "Mom and Pop" restaurants seem to serve the most culturally authentic foods. When it comes to Vietnamese food this philosophy is at it's most pronounced. So when looking for authentic Vietnamese food you are limited to this style of restaurant.
As you can see by both the name and picture below Vietnam Georgetown Restaurant has to be the diviest restaurant in all of Georgetown. Uncharictaristly located on M St. this restaurant serves up some great authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnamese food runs near and dear to me so when I discovered this place I had immediately to sample their menu. My affinity towards this type of food was nutured during my early teenage life when my parents used to take me to 7 corners in Virginia to a mini mall which is infused with Vietnamese culture.
We went to a number of different restaurants my favorite of which served two dishes that I could never live without. The first is the appetizer you see below. Bun Cha Gio are traditional Vietnamese egg rolls that are filled with pork, carrots and jicama which are then deep fried. In my opinion this is one dish you have to try before you die. They are the best egg rolls that I have ever had by a long shot. Full of flavor these rolls have a taste profile of their own and cannot be described in words.
(Bun Cha Gio)
I was delighted that they had this dish and it was served in its traditional style unlike their direct competitor Miss Saigon Restaurant. I followed this up with the most influential dish in Vietnamese cuisine, Pho Bo is a rich noodle soup served in either a beef (Bo) or chicken (Ga) broth. The preparation for this dish takes is arduous to say the least but the by-product is heavenly.
The Pho at this place is served in it's traditional style and is slightly above average which is a godsend because most of the great Pho is located in northern Virginia. The soup was both rich and flavorful, adding the plum sauce with a side of shrimp toast and you are in business. Every time I come here I devour this soup with a unmeasurable rage which is followed by a feeling nirvana.
On my last visit I decided to try something I have never had. I ordered my usual spring rolls and a spicy lemongrass soup with shrimp. The broth was full of flavor and the lemongrass added an extra dimension which was very pleasent. I was very pleased with it and will make it a go to soup on a cold day or when I am sick.
The one shortfall with this place is the service. I went with some of my coworkers around 12:30, at that time it was at capacity yet there was only one old lady acting as both the maitre d' and the sole waitress. It took us about 5 minutes to get seated an additional 10 minutes to get water and our menus. So to say the service during peak hours is atrocious is an understatement.
(Canh Chua Sa)
To alleviate this problem I tend to go after the initial lunch rush. When I do this the service jumps exponentially. I never have any problems and am in and out within 40 minutes. There is nothing nice to say about the decor but I guess it comes with the territory of being a dive restaurant. I'm not much a stickler for these nuances as long as the food is tasty and the prices are fair both of which are so with this establishment.
All in all this is a solid place to get authentic Vietnamese food, the service can be horrible if you go during peak hours but people keep coming which says something about the food they serve. So if you are in the neighborhood I would recommend giving this place a shot, especially if you are a enthusiast for Vietnamese cuisine. I promise you that you will not be disappointed.
Unlike other dive Vietnamese places (mainly in Virginia) they accept credit cards. But they do share the same quality of food as well as the atmosphere associated with any authentic Vietnamese restaurant.