Viet Garden is my usual eatery when I’m in the downtown area. It’s on Colonial Drive in the section of downtown known as Little Vietnam. I constantly swear that I’m going to try some of the other Vietnamese restaurants downtown, but I end up at Viet Garden every time. (Yes, I’ve tried a couple of the others over the years, and I like them too.) I like the option of ordering a combination of Thai and Vietnamese food. I usually park in the back of the restaurant, so I enter through the back door by the restrooms (okay, not the best place to enter). The restaurant is both simple and plain, not much at all in the way of decorations except for a few unadorned paintings on the wall and large picture store front windows. That’s okay; I don’t go to Viet Garden for the decor. Viet Garden offers limited Thai but a wealth of Vietnamese dishes. I like to start with the fresh Garden Rolls and Peanut Sauce. Viet Garden makes some of the better garden rolls in town, and no visit is complete without at least one order. (I must admit—every now and then I order the fried spring rolls.) If it’s Thai you’re after, start with an order of Chicken Satay (Thai BBQ chicken on a stick, served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad) or Nam Sod (ground chicken with ginger, scallions, chili, and peanuts, marinated in fresh lime dressing). The Pad Thai—rice noodles stir-fried with egg, chicken and shrimp, garnished with ground peanuts and bean sprouts—is another winner. Try the Thai Ice Tea or Thai Coffee. Both are made with sweetened condensed milk. I’m totally addicted.
Most of the time, I order one of the rice vermicelli dishes (BÚN), usually with shrimp or beef. I like the fresh ingredients mixed with the sweet fish sauce. The beef noodle soup (PHO) is also a good choice. The rice plates and the stir fry are well worth a try, not too heavy and not drowning in sauce. When I really want to splurge, I order the crispy noodle combination. I like the crunchy noodles covered with fresh stir fried vegetables and meat in a light sauce. The food is consistently tasty and the ingredients are always fresh. That’s something that’s remained constant over the years.
Service is fairly quick and friendly. Once you order, the food is served at a good pace. Prices range from around $7.95 to $21.95 for entrees, and less than $7 for appetizers. The amount of food in each dish is a bargain at these prices. I highly recommend you try Viet Garden. You won’t be disappointed. You can also visit them on the web and order take out.