The owners of a new Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Orlando named it Le House because they wanted customers to feel as if they were dining at their home. I can’t attest to that authenticity, but I can say that I certainly felt welcomed and accommodated on my visit, even if I wasn’t offered the guest room.
The menu here is more succinct than at other Vietnamese restaurants. Pho is available, as it must be at all local Vietnamese restaurants, apparently by law. But Le House’s menu has a manageable 10 entries instead of the three or four dozen you might be asked to negotiate elsewhere.
But pho is not a specialty of Le House. The young man who greeted me — welcomed me into his home, as it were — suggested two items under the Specialty banner: Nem Cuòn, a springlike roll with cured fermented pork; and Com Gà, or organic chicken.
The Nem was a must, I decided, but instead of the entree version, which comes as a build-it-yourself kit of ingredients, I opted for the no-assembly-required appetizer variety.
But chicken as my entree did not appeal to me. And, as I told the young man, I had had chicken for lunch. “Not chicken like this,” he asserted. So I was intrigued, and somehow remained so even after he cautioned that because it was organic and free range chicken that it would be tougher than other birds.
And it was. Also, not all that more extraordinary than basic chicken. The quarter chicken with wing attached was served with a timbale of yellow rice and accompanied by lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers as well as a dish of ginger sauce. With all the accouterments, one might think there was a method to be applied to eat it all properly.
Not so, apparently. I asked the cook, who wandered by while I was eating because there were no other guests in house at the moment, if there was a right way to eat the dish. He said one is meant to pour the ginger sauce over the right and just eat the chicken as it was. Everything else on the plate, he said, was just for show. Well, it showed very nicely. But basically, I was just eating chewy chicken with rice. Hardly worthy of being listed as a specialty.
But the Nem rolls were definitely deserving. The two rolls in the appetizer portion were substantial, not quite the size of a California burrito, but close. Inside the translucent wrapper were lettuce, pickled carrots and daikon, and strips of grilled pork. The meat had a crispy texture, and the coolness of the unfried rolls and freshness of the vegetables were delightful. The nem were accompanied by two dipping sauces, one mild and one hot. The hot was not too, and was a lovely grace note.
I don’t think I would want to order the Nem entree that would require me to put everything together, but if I were to return I’d get two orders of the appetizer version and make a meal of it.
Le House occupies a small storefront space in the City View building. It’s a narrow room with comfortable seating and tables with glass atop white cloths. All of the staff were friendly and welcoming. I guess you could say it was all very homey.
Le House is at 595 W. Church St., Orlando. It is open for lunch Sunday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. The restaurant’s website was not operational at the time of publication. The phone number is 407- 530-7024.