Turmeric dyes the crêpe a sunny yellow. Inside a banh xeo, Vietnam’s crispy rice flour pancake, one will usually find a collection of shrimp and pork. But not at Thanh Van Restaurant, a takeout-only eatery inside the same building within Eden Center that holds Hai Duong. Thanh Van specializes in chay, or vegetarian, food. Despite a menu filled with usually meat-and-seafood-filled dishes like bun rieu and pho, there’s nary a scrap of flesh to be ordered here.
The woman out front, manning a table full of fresh veggies, took my order and told me my meal would be ready in 15 minutes. That left me time to find a drink, but looking at the menu later, I realized that Thanh Van has its own collection of fun, inexpensive sips like a $3 durian milkshake. They’re not featured on the sandwich board out front from which I ordered, so it’s worth checking out the full bill of fare on Facebook before ordering.
When I collected my takeout container, I was disarmed by its heft. At an outdoor table under one of Eden Center’s parking lot tents, I saw why. The banh xeo, in all of its coconut-sweet glory, was stuffed with a garden’s worth of ingredients. Bean sprouts accounted for the bulk of it, but mushrooms, chewy fried tofu, and mung beans also played their part. A sugary, fishless nuoc cham provided a dip to help vary the pile of veggies, as did a bag of fresh herbs that came with the meal.
Eden Center is full of gifts, but can be difficult for vegetarians to navigate. Thanh Van is a worthy destination for even vegans, with zero worry of a meaty surprise.
6795 Wilson Blvd. Ste. 37, Falls Church
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