Places I Eat: Lam’s Bistro

I am a newbie to Vietnamese cuisine, so I probably would not have selected Lam’s Bistro for tonight’s dinner. Peter, on the other hand, has consumed his share of Pho over the last decade in restaurants and bistros up and down the West Coast. So I followed his lead, and it was a good thing I did.

Pho, if you don’t know, is the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup that took the area by storm about 20 years ago. Now a staple of the local Asian cuisine scene, you can find it about as easily as you can find espresso.

So what’s the appeal of Pho? As I found out last night, it’s a.) generous portions (a “small” bowl was an enormous serving that would equal about four cans of Campbell’s soup in volume); b.) flavor, which is strong and distinctive without being overbearing; and c.) value. Between the brisket Pho and grilled chicken Banh Mi I ordered, I spent $13 and came away with two meals worth of delicious food.

The Banh Mi is another traditional Vietnamese staple, featuring various meats and vegetables served on a sliced baguette. (Remember that Viet Nam was a French colony for many, many years!)

I also sampled Peter’s order of eggrolls, which were elegantly and expertly sliced to aid the consumption process. They were wonderfully crisp, fried darker than I expected but without tasting at all burnt.

All of the food at Lam’s is served as sharply and attractively as the photos on their website. In my experience, that’s a rare achievement at mom-and-pop eateries, where the day-to-day grind of service leads to a gradual slide in quality of presentation. Not so at Lam’s. It would appear to me that primary chef Lam Mail Huong (pictured) has trained her staff exceptionally well. Quality is high across the board at Lam’s, and service is attentive and prompt without being cloying or invasive. A meal at Lam’s is “a beautiful song” indeed.

Lam’s Bistro is at 10609 SE 240th St. It’s open 7 days a week, 10:30 AM to 8:30 PM.

I highly recommend it, and can’t think of a single drawback.