What’s Nue? An Elegant Vietnamese Restaurant in Falls Church
Find seafood towers, cool cocktails and dreamlike murals at this newcomer to Founders Row.
My eyes nearly pop out of my head when I see the seafood tower ($127) at Nue, an elegant Vietnamese restaurant that opened in Founders Row in April. Artfully arranged on banana leaves, it’s teeming with whole Maine lobster, green-lipped mussels, Spanish octopus with Fresno chile emulsion, colossal shrimp with yuzu nuoc mam (fish sauce) and oysters with buttermilk vinaigrette.
The Falls Church restaurant, which seats 77 inside and 24 outside, is owned by Happy Endings Hospitality and shares its kitchen with two of the company’s other brands—Chasin’ Tails seafood and Roll Play, a fast-casual spot serving Viet street food.
Nue is the brainchild of Happy Endings partner and chief marketing officer Tuyêt Nhi Lê, who named the restaurant after a 1931 portrait of a nude (nue, in French) by her great-great-uncle, Vietnamese artist Lê Pho. (The painting sold for $1.4 million in 2019 at Christie’s in Hong Kong.)
D.C.-based architecture firm HapstakDemitriou+ designed the restaurant space, although Lê had a hand in it. Vivid and ethereal, it includes an Impressionist-style mural in hues of magenta, lilac, pink and teal that curves into a cascading display of three-dimensional flowers. “I love Indochine and modern French-ish style,” says Lê, who lives in Founders Row.
Chef Daniel Lê (no relation) oversees Nue’s kitchen, but Tuyêt Nhi’s mother, Tuyêt Hoa Vuong, is responsible for many of the recipes. Don’t miss the seafood cha gio, crispy rice paper-wrapped spring rolls stuffed with crab, shrimp, pork and taro ($15); silken chicken liver mousse with Thai chilies and peanuts ($14); pappardelle with Vietnamese short rib ragu ($36); and coconut curry risotto with Hokkaido scallops ($42).
Cocktails ($16 to $18), such as the Cloudy Dreams (Empress gin, yellow Chartreuse, hibiscus and lemon) and the Tropical Kickoff (tequila, Cointreau, Aperol, coconut milk, lime juice), are excellent. The wine list features 14 bottles ($54 to $140), 11 of them available by the glass ($12 to $28).
Editor’s Note: See video highlights below from the restaurant’s recent 8-course “Phomakase” experience featuring eight different variations on the traditional Vietnamese soup.