Sprig & Sprout tries to demystify Vietnamese food

It's not often that a Vietnamese sandwich and noodle shop can create a stir in Washington, D.C.'s competitive restaurant scene.  But when the Vietnamese-American restaurant Sprig & Sprout opened its doors four months ago, it had a line out the door.

The restaurant is a fusion of traditional Asian cuisine in a modernized, cool American backdrop.

Co-owner and daughter of Vietnamese immigrants Jennifer Hoang, who opened the restaurant with her fiancé Marc Farmer, says she's trying to demystify Vietnamese food.

On their website, for example, is a fun explainer of the food and what it is made of.

"We serve Vietnamese food in an American style. We haven't ‘watered down’ our flavors, we've just changed the background of where you are eating.”

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Their main attraction is pho soup (pronounced "fuh") --a beef-based vegetable and meat soup-- and banh mi (pronounced "ben mee") --a beef or lemon grass chicken sandwich with pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, cucumber and a house-made aioli made on a baguette.

The restaurant operates on a two-level system: "fast and casual" take-out food on the first floor and on the second floor a place “to hangout and have drinks with friends,” says Hoang.

Hoang jokes about how the establishment is similar to herself. “I'm full-blooded Vietnamese with an American twist. I'm a little confusing to some because while I look Vietnamese, I have no accent and I love fish sauce as much as I love fried chicken and country gravy.”