Open Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays until midnight. Street parking if you cruise enough, though weekends can be a challenge. Accessible by wheel-chair. No credit cards. Reservations not necessary, but a call ahead wouldn't hurt.
We were a super-surly quartet by the time we stomped into the Vietnam-Georgetown restaurant on M Street NW - suffering from French-frayed nerves acquired across the street at Chez Odette.
We'd just bolted that place when after close to an hour of tapping our feet in a mini-line to the hostess' "it'll-only-be-a-few-minutes-more" routine, we'd been taken to a table and then suddenly asked to get up and give it to a party of people who arrived with reservation. That, as we might say (without reservation) en famille, is a veritable non-non.
So we were hardly a great door prize for the Vietnam-Goergetown. Still, we got a table right away and that's not bad when you consider that there were only 17 tables in the room.
We were promptly pacified by a most gracious waiter who saw to it that two Kirin beers (Japanese) and two soft drinks materialized in no time.
It wasn't much longer before we actually calmed down enough to take in the decor, which included a wall-long mural, some fish nets, a star fish and some low-slung philodendron. But enough gazing about; we were hungry and never mind that we knew nothing about Vietnamese cuisine.
Soups were the first in a series of surprise delights: Crabmeat and asparagus soup for my wife for $1, won ton for our 10-year-old son at $1, a small bowl of beef and rice noodles for our 8-year-old daughter at $1.50 and for old spoon-happy dad, a way-too-big jumbo bowl of beef and rice noodle at $2.50 (way too big, maybe, but drained nonetheless).
We took the amateur approach to the main dishes and ordered by the numbers. There were 26 numbered offerings and then another six write-ins, every one under $5 except for No. 26, which is steak.
To mix it up, we ordered Nos. 20, 22, 24 and 25, which averages out to 22 and three-fourths.
It also added up to unanimous raves around the table. My wife's cheers were for an order of "crispy rolls of crabmeat, shrimp, lean pork and chopped vegetables, rolled in paper thin rice sheet, deep-fried to a golden brown," for $3.50.
As many a child might, our daughter homed in on chicken. But this was no everyday chicken; this was boneless bites, gently flavored with fresh lemon peel and grilled on skewers for $3.75.
Our son ordered the beef counterpart, also $3.75, and it was difficult to decide which was more tasty. At any rate, the skewers were all-meat and all-chicken - no odd pepper-picking necessary - and that's a plus with kids.
Along with my selection of beef "wrapped in tender grape leaves and grilled" and the fine brown rice that comes with every dish, the four of us had the perfect makings for much exchanging and shortchanging between plates.
Having fully recovered from our earlier grumps, we now needed only the check, which totaled $26.62 plus tip.
It wasn't until we were outside again that we noticed 1, that next door is another Vietnamese restaurant that we'll have to try some time and 2, that in the back yard of the Vietnam-Georgetown, with a main entrance on 30th Street, is a charming garden with another dozen or so tables for the eating-outdoors seasons.