Our critic shares the reasons some spots didn't make it into his Dining Guide By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011
Chopped clams with pork in black bean sauce still simmer among the best offerings at Four Sisters, the long-running family-owned restaurant in Falls Church. “Do you know how to eat it?” a member of the genial staff asks as she sets the signature surf-and-turf on the table. She goes on to explain that the warm salad is meant to be enjoyed with shards of the plate-size black sesame crackers. One of my tag-along companions is new to the popular Vietnamese restaurant, set off with vivid landscapes that would look at home in a gallery and floral designs that show off Four Sisters’ other talents. My guest is enthusiastic about the comfy surroundings and everything he’s devouring. Me? I’m wistful for the good old days here. Shrimp toast bundled with herbs in a lettuce wrap is hype-worthy, but much of the rest of the meal feels routine. Shredded papaya salad with sliced shrimp and julienned pork is mushier than I remember; curried scored squid gives my jaw a workout; and grilled beef on a bed of vermicelli smacks of lighter fluid rather than smoke from the grill. My party fills up instead on Chinese broccoli with bronzed garlic and sea bass with black bean sauce, both pleasant. But “pleasant” isn’t sufficient reason to drive 15 miles from downtown Washington for dinner, or even, come to think of it, just a few miles from Vienna.