By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
The kitchen staff does well with all harvests from the sea, and a whole snapper was especially tasty, bathed in a subtle, ginger-enhanced peanut sauce. Wayne popped over again when this dish was served, but this time his assistance was warranted because he expertly deboned the fish for us. The sweet, tender flesh of the snapper was a good foil for the slightly heavier sauce.
While fish and seafood do dominate at Vietnamese restaurants in general (the national condiment is nuoc cham, a dried fish-based sweet-and-sour sauce), beef saté or beef stir-fried with lemongrass and bell peppers are comforting options at Lê's House. You can also request a tabletop grill and cook your own beef or chicken. We especially liked a main course of pork au caramel, a hot pot of braised, slow-cooked pork covered with spiced onions. As far as poultry goes, the aforementioned Saigon hen was served plain, as was an appetizer of roasted quail. But whereas the first was farmyard blah, the second was game-bird bliss, full of rich flavors and slick, juicy dark meat.
If too much service can never be enough for you, beckon the staff back with an order of bananas flambé for dessert. The firm banana slices were presented tableside, then doused in alcohol and set afire. After the brief bath of flame, they turned out candied, not blackened, and were wonderful paired with mild coconut ice cream. Vietnamese coffee, which steeps at the table, cuts the sugar -- unless you ask for yours with sweetened condensed milk.
In fact the thickened milk product will probably be the heaviest item you'll encounter all evening (including the tab), unless you can't resist the urge to remove the staff physically from your personal space. But then, close attention from swarming relatives is what you should expect from any restaurant that calls itself a house. And in this case, surrounded by toys and office paraphernalia and a certain amount of controlled chaos, there's the added virtue of knowing that when your meal is done, you can leave without being called on to clear the table.