We made a trip out to Columbia because I had a Groupon from last year for an awesome 90 Minute Massage (If I were reviewing massage places on this blog, Awaken Wellness Spa would have gotten 5 stars, two thumbs up, or whatever, because it was awesome).
While I was relaxing on a table, Dave drove around browsing and stumbled across this cute little Vietnamese place. Neither of us have ever had this type of food, and we haven't reviewed anything in a long time because of the house hunt, so we stepped in.
It's small and cozy--your typical Asian-Restaurant-in-a-strip-mall-looking kinda place but the menu is amazing. Once you get over not being able to pronounce anything, the descriptions of every dish is so mouth watering that it was difficult to make a decision.
We started with apps, Spring and Summer rolls. Stuffed full of crisp veggies, they were fresh hot and very very good. The cabbage was absolutely perfect. Everything was so fresh it wasn't hard to imagine them being rolled by hand and steamed mere moments before they hit the table. They came with two dipping sauces, one was peanut, mildly sweet and a little tangy salty flavor, and the other was kind of sweet, chilled, and almost more of a broth. They amplified the flavors of the rolls. Perfect start to a great meal.
Dave went with a traditional soup dish, Pho (An Loi flavor, had everything in it). When it arrived it was a giant white bowl of steaming goodness with big chunks of beef and tons of noodles and a plate of vegetables (bean sprouts, seaweed and other greens) that he dumped in. Portion size? Let's put it this way: I've never seen Dave not finish a bowl of soup. I'd say he managed to get a third of the way through it before he had to surrender. It was tough putting down the chopsticks though because it was fabulous. The meat was really tender and melted in your mouth, noodles cooked perfectly and everything so nicely seasoned. I did have to tease him a bit for ordering something that contained "tripe" and when he looked at me confused I whispered "Intestines". It didn't shy him away though, I'm proud to say.
I went with Mieng Xiao, which is a noodle dish that had rice noodles, egg, chicken and all blended with a delicious sauce. It was a heaping portion and I ended up taking half of it home (and I'm happy to say it reheats well, tasted just as delicious a day and a half later as it did fresh at the restaurant). The dish was savory, just shy of sweet and mild but not bland.
The service was impeccable. Our glasses never went empty, everyone was welcoming, courteous and easy to understand (which is a bonus because when you go into one of these very traditional type places often the English isn't so good, which is fine, just makes ordering a little more difficult)
5 Noms. Not only for their amazing food and great service, but their menu offers such a variety that anyone would be able to eat here. They have several vegetarian options, I was able to find several Crohn's Friendly options myself and they do have some vegan options as well. Also, it's cheap! It's so inexpensive and you get so much food. They also offer carry-out. Now hurry! Expand your horizons and get some An Loi.