Asian cuisine and I have always had a love-hate relationship. While I usually can’t get enough of the mix of sweet, spicy and tangy flavors, I’m not a huge fan of fried meat coated in heavy sauces, so I’ve been vigorously on the hunt for quick Asian food I can feel good about eating. I tried ShopHouse in Dupont Circle, but its made-to-order rice bowls with curries and spices were too intense and overwhelming. I wanted a restaurant that served fresh and light Asian flavors.
Sprig and Sprout on Wisconsin Avenue was my answer — a gift from the gods of Asian cuisine. Specializing in Vietnamese food, the tiny shop offers made-to-order rice bowls, noodle bowls, pho and sandwiches. The best part about Sprig and Sprout is that you choose the amount of sauces, herbs and veggies that go into your meal, so everything is prepared to your liking. For those, like me, who tend to avoid restaurants that drown their meats in sauce, this offers a perfect alternative.
Sprig and Sprout’s pho is the perfect meal for a cold, drizzly day. Pho is a traditional rice noodle soup similar to ramen, and I ordered it with the employee-recommended mix of brisket and flank steak. The broth was savory and beefy, with tender shavings of meat and rice noodles, and sprinklings of herbs and onions brightened up the soup, giving it a nice, fresh flavor. I added some sriracha for spice, but you can also add Hoisin sauce for sweetness or lime for a citrus kick.
Their rice bowls are also incredibly satisfying, but they don’t make you feel over stuffed. I tried the lemongrass chicken bowl, but they also offer pork belly, beef or tofu. Served with herbs and crunchy vegetables, the dish was crisp and colorful. I added Sprig and Sprout’s signature sauce, which is sweet and vinegary. Adding peanuts on the side provided a nuttiness that balanced the sweetness of the Sprig and Sprout sauce.
Egg rolls are something that I usually stay away from as they tend to be greasy, but I gave in and tried one with pork and shrimp. Surprisingly light and flaky, the restaurant’s egg rolls are delectable and should be a definite addition to your meal. Sprig and Sprout also offers Boba tea, fruit smoothies and Vietnamese or Thai ice coffees.
Sprig and Sprout is a convenient lunch or dinner option that offers take-out options as well. While it’s a little more expensive than Chipotle or Wisey’s, the ingredients are fresh, and you get more than what you pay for. Leaving Sprig and Sprout, I felt satisfied without feeling like I had eaten too much, which, given the plentiful portions, was a tribute to the lightness of their food. I split the pho, rice bowl and egg rolls with a friend, and it definitely felt like a feast.
Sprig and Sprouts is about a 15-minutes walk from St. Mary’s Hall, but the Wisconsin GUTS bus will drop you off just a few doors down. The restaurant offers a convenient option for quick, fresh Vietnamese food and a menu that focuses more on the actual food than the sauces.