Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Anh Hong Restaurant

bo7006Seven courses of beef have come to Seven Corners.

bo7006Seven courses of beef have come to Seven Corners.

At the Seven Corners-adjacent Eden Center, Anh Hong Restaurant specializes in bò 7 món, which translates to seven courses of beef. Bò 7 món serves up not only multiple different takes on the beloved source of protein, but also offers an adventure for diners unfamiliar with this highlight of Vietnamese cuisine.

Diners are seated at large tables in the restaurant’s expansive dining room. The stylish interior, with walls decorated in shades of red and light browns and accompanied by plants, almost make up for dated chairs and lacquered tables. But the disappointing tables are soon out of sight and out of mind as the parade of bò 7 món makes its way to the table.

The meal begins with servers doling out plates of rice vermicelli, mint, lettuce, basil, assorted vegetables and rice paper (served along with hot water to render the otherwise crispy and inflexible pieces of paper perfectly sticky for wrapping and perfectly chewy for eating). Each of the seven courses is meant to be combined with these various accompaniments. And while confusion from diners unfamiliar with the practice might arise, servers are helpful in describing the dishes as they come, explaining how they are to be eaten and even rolling a few sample rolls if need be.

But meat eaters need not despair at the sight of so much vegetation, as the beef is soon to come. The first course is a plate of shredded vegetables and sliced beef, mixed with a variety of onions and coated in a tangy and sweet fish sauce. The beef makes only the lightest impression in this dish, which largely imparts the taste of the sauce and the crunch of the vegetables. But it readies the palette for the next dish, thin-sliced pieces of raw beef, which are to be cooked at the table in a boiling pot of broth and onion. With the pieces browning in the water, and the faint aroma of beef wafting over the table, diners can hardly resist taking the beef from broth straight to mouth.bo7002

While the beef in the first two dishes is served a bit leaner, the next four dishes, all served together on a large plate, kick up the fatty, savory quality of the beef. In four concoctions – a large ground beef and lemongrass ball, leaf-wrapped meat balls, beef sausage and beef-wrapped shrimp – Anh Hong uses the same main ingredient, but the treatment is so varied that the diner won’t be bored, and each dish is quite distinct. From the unique herbaceous flavor of the leaf-wrapped beef to the ultimately salty and savory beef sausage, diners can see beef in a whole new light.

Capping off the meal is a helping of beef congee, a very thin rice porridge served in large pot. Tiny, positively obliterated pieces of beef and rice float in a broth seasoned with onion that balances the taste of the beef and the rice – which provides an overall balance to the meal, pulling the beef taste from center stage as in earlier dishes.

Though seven courses of beef might have every carnivore in the pack salivating, these aren’t seven steaks stacked one atop the other. The beef in the bò 7 món is, though abundant in variety, limited in amount, which is disappointing considering the $25 price tag. However, Anh Hong’s take on bò 7 món is good, and friends can gather around the restaurant’s tables to embark upon a food adventure, creating their own unique rolls and enjoying the endeavor in the restaurant’s friendly atmosphere.

Anh Hong Restaurant is located at 6793 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-992-6099 or visit edencenter.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. -10 p.m.