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Chill Out With a Chilled Noodle Bowl at Viet's

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Despite the seemingly unstoppable rain, warm weather is quickly approaching and before we know it, sandals will replace rain boots and we'll start complaining about the heat and lusting for rain. While ramen and pho really hit the spot when it’s cold and gloomy out, why should we compromise our love of noodles when it gets so hot out our shirts are sticking to our backs? In the realm of noodle fanatics, we don’t think you should compromise — and a chilled Vietnamese bowl from Viet’s is the perfect solution.

Our 2015 winner of Best Vietnamese Restaurant serves noodle bowls of all sorts, among other tasty and authentic dishes. Bún, a traditional noodle bowl, is like a deconstructed fresh spring role: The ingredients are almost identical but are piled in a bowl rather than wrapped in rice paper. Lettuce, chilled rice noodles, bean sprouts, carrot, onion, peanuts and basil are partnered with a variety of proteins. The two vegetarian options at Viet's are lemongrass tofu or egg roll. Both are delicious, but we went with the tofu this week.

The tofu is warm when it first comes out, which by laws of heat transfer, warms the first layer of noodles. But don’t get all hot and bothered: Once you dig in further, you’ll find a goldmine of cold and refreshing ingredients. The bean sprouts and onion offer great crunch and the plentiful basil is bright and fresh. Mixing everything together allows you to optimize the flavor of each bite. Often, dishes with tofu arrive with the soy product either deep fried or fresh and lightly steamed. The lemongrass tofu at Viet’s, however, is the kind of tofu preparation that’s a little less common — thin-sliced and pan-fried to give it some crisp with plenty of surface area it to offer some of that crispness with every bite, with no sogginess on the inside. This tofu is cooked to perfection, and truly makes the dish.

After crossing through the archway at the entrance into the Far East Center, you know you’re in for something delicious no matter where you end up. And Viet's owner Hiep Thai comes from a restaurant family, so it’s no surprise that the menu is dialed in. The noodle bowls are a must try, but so is just about everything else on the menu. Viet's is a great stop for a quick lunch (with little or no wait times), get your sake on with friends or have a low key and delicious date night.

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