Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Ba Le

spotlightIt’s three in the morning. You just did something crazy and reckless that you will later deny when the prosecution asks you about it. But before the shock of whatever it is that you did settles in, you realize that you’re hungry. But alas, the 24-hour drive-through at the McDonald’s stops serving from the dollar menu at one because Ronald is a cruel and heartless monster. So now what? Ba Le, that’s what.

spotlight

Ba Le (Photo: News-Press)

 

It’s three in the morning. You just did something crazy and reckless that you will later deny when the prosecution asks you about it. But before the shock of whatever it is that you did settles in, you realize that you’re hungry. But alas, the 24-hour drive-through at the McDonald’s stops serving from the dollar menu at one because Ronald is a cruel and heartless monster. So now what? Ba Le, that’s what.

Ba Le is a 24-hour diner for those who can no longer settle for greasy American food in the early morning hours. Located next to a Magruder’s grocery store in a strip-mall on Graham Road, this Vietnamese diner can satisfy any hunger you might have with huge bowls of soup, big delicious sandwiches or bizarre sodas. Think Bahn Mi (for the purposes of this article, I’m not going to compare the two because that’s a project that would take several decades) but with more dishes, indoor seating and open all day every day until the End of Days.

The appetizers, a simple pork eggroll (not labeled, but referred to on the receipt as a “cha gio”) and a pork pastry, are crispy, flakey and hot, perfect for when you need something on the go. But for those with a severe case of the late-night munchies, any doctor who doesn’t want to lose their license will prescribe a sandwich or one of the soups. At $3 for a regular and $3.50 for a large sandwich, a crispy and soft mini-baguette stuffed with your choice of meat or meat substitute along with jalapenos, carrots, turnips, cilantro and mayonnaise, not getting one of these beauties is almost criminally insane. I am in contact with the FCPD right now to determine how to go about arresting someone who refuses to get a sandwich, and based on their responses to my questions, this isn’t the first time they’ve been asked about this.

The soups are complicated for a variety of reasons. The shrimp dumpling soup was salty, delicious and huge, but it only had around four ping-pong sized dumplings, which meant that, proportionally, the soup was 95% broth. Even though they were soft and meaty, I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed that I was only getting four dumplings for $6. The beef-sampler, a soup consisting of various parts of what I hope was a cow, was decent when I first sampled it in the midnight hour. Figuring that I could save some of it for lunch the next day, I put it in the fridge. Little did I know that this would be my undoing. I will state this in capital letters so that the basic message gets through for those of you who skim through this column: BA LE SOUPS MUST BE EATEN IMMIDEATELY! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PUT THEM IN THE FRIDGE FOR LATER CONSUMPTION! The beef-sampler became somewhat gelatinous after a night in the fridge and was not improved no matter how many times I microwaved it.

Therefore, it is in your best interest to enjoy your food in the dining area or somewhere nearby if you can’t stand the 1970s cafeteria vibe that the Ba Le dining area has. The drink menu, consisting of boba teas, crazy sodas (chrysanthemum, basil, pennywort, etc.) and smooth and spicy Vietnamese iced coffee that was more ice than coffee, and the sandwich menu are both buy five get one free, so wake five of your friends up at a ridiculous hour, go get some Vietnamese food and try to get your stories straight.

Ba Le

2822 Graham Rd., Falls Church

703-876-9062

Hours:

Open 24 hours, 7 days a week

 

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