Neighbourhood: West End
Address: 505 Sargent Ave
Far before Asian fusion reached peak trendiness, Vietnamese cuisine was evolving out of a blend of traditional Asian techniques and ingredients and French colonial influences. Here in Peg City, Viva Restaurant has been serving Winnipeg the flavourful result for 25 years.
Bánh xèo’s roots can be traced back to France’s beloved crêpe. A thin batter, prepared with rice flour instead of wheat, is pan-fried into a crisp shell. Pull apart the generous-sized serving and uncover a mound of bean sprouts intermingled with juicy shreds of pork and shrimp. Accompanying mint and romaine add a fresh herby crunch to every bite, while sweet and slightly spicy dipping sauce bolsters the dish.
A steamy bowl of umami-rich broth and rice noodles is synonymous with Vietnamese cuisine throughout North America, influenced by the French’s obsession with beef broths. Pho has become the litmus test for Vietnamese restaurants, and Viva’s is top notch. The broth’s deep flavour is credited to its studious preparation, made from scratch and simmered for 24 hours.
Brimming with sweet-savoury stock and four different preparations of beef, Viva’s deluxe pho is the ultimate soup for meat-lovers. Tender shreds of rare and well-done beef, spiced balls and slivers of tripe swim in a sea of tender noodles. Pile on some fresh Thai basil and bean sprouts for a fragrant slurp.
A popular ingredient in Vietnam and neighbouring countries, jellyfish surprises with a special textural crunch all its own. The bold sea creature-topped salad carries heritage and flavour. Embodying the region’s philosophy of “yin” and “yang”, pops of fishy salinity contrast with a bed of sweetly-brined carrots and daikon. More juxtapositions in each bite—pickled and fresh, crunchy and tender—work harmoniously.
At Viva Restaurant, the classics are masterfully executed and satisfy fans. For novices, the staff is apt with suggestions, helping diners sort through the 100+ menu items.
Viva Restaurant is open Mon-Sat 11 am-9:30 pm.