- Restaurant website
- Location: Portland/Beaverton
- Price to lavishly dine 2: $24
“…if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with…”
Queen Bee is a Vietnamese restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, where they serve a crispy, succulent eggroll that I’m still dreaming about, 10 years after the last bite vanished down my grateful gullet. Every so often I catch myself wishing I didn’t have to go all the way back to DC for another.
So tonight I discovered that I really DON’T need to look any further than my own back yard. A few blocks down the road there’s a typical suburban strip mall with a little Vietnamese place that does eggrolls. Beautiful eggrolls and salad rolls and stuff I can’t possibly pronounce.
It’s called CT Viet + Thai Bistro, and my friend Sharon and I had dinner there tonight, almost by accident. We’d planned to have a quick bite at the neighborhood Japanese place next door, but on a whim tried this place. It was pretty much love at first bite.
The last time I walked past, maybe 18 months ago, it was a none-too-clean Hawaiian food joint, with syrupy meat dishes so sweet they gagged at a hundred paces. The new guy who has it now degreased the place and tore everything out. Then he filled it with soothing color, added comfortable tables and real art on the walls…and started cooking.
Boy, can he cook. This is his fourth restaurant (the other three were in Atlanta), and I can say with some confidence that he’s got it down to a science.
He asked us to trust him, recommended we share two dishes–Bun Dac Biet and Pad Woonsen–family style. The pad merged fresh vegetables with glass noodles and a lot of spice and was delicious. The Bun Dac was a mixed grill of all sorts of meat tidbits, eggroll chunks, vermicelli and a light, tangy sauce. Both were delightful; I couldn’t decide which was my favorite but probably leaned toward the Bun Dac.
Since it was our first time, the chef gave us a free slice of mango mousse cake, which looked like cheesecake but turned out to be beautifully flavored and extremely light on the palate. It was more than enough for two and, at $3, a bargain.
There was more food than we could handle, washed down with fragrant quaffs of jasmine tea. I don’t generally do doggy bags–something about staring last night’s dinner in the face leaves me faintly queasy–but tonight I did.
The staff didn’t rush us, although we closed the place down and then some. The chef kindly marked up a take-out menu (yay! they do takeout!) to show which dishes we’d ordered and which he’d recommend on our next visit.
Total bill was $12 apiece, about half what I’d expect to pay down in the Pearl. Apparently staying in my own backyard pays off.