DES MOINES, Washington: Origin Vietnamese Bistro

One city’s loss is another’s gain, and this time the beneficiary is the Seattle suburb of Des Moines. The “gain” is the opening of Origin Vietnamese Bistro.

Origin formerly occupied a spot at the foot of the Rainier Tower at 5th and University in downtown Seattle. However, deconstruction/reconstruction around the famed tower forced the restaurant’s closure earlier this year. Fortunately, for Origin as well as residents of the suburb just south of Sea-Tac Airport, there was a vacant restaurant off Marine View Drive that would become Origin’s new location.

On July 2, after rehabilitating – and, I would aver, upgrading – the site of what had been an O.K. Mexican restaurant, Origin opened the doors to its new home.

My wife, who worked about a block from their prior downtown location and had eaten there a couple of times, was very excited to see them coming to Des Moines. One rainy afternoon I suggested pho might be just the thing, so off we went.

Greeted immediately by the owner, we were shown to our table and provided with menus to peruse.

Fresh roll appetizer

In a few moments, our server arrived with water and an offer of something more interesting to drink. Despite the extensive menu, it didn’t take long for us to decide to start with an appetizer of the shrimp and pork fresh rolls. For her main course, my wife opted for lemongrass beef with mixed greens while I chose the pho ga (chicken soup with rice noodles).

Lemongrass beef with mixed greens

The rolls came out quickly and were indeed fresh. Accompanied by a sweet soy-based dipping sauce, they quickly disappeared.

When our main courses arrived, the first thing each of us did was sample our dish as presented. It’s always good to taste the food before adding any accompaniments, and ours needed nothing; they were perfect! My wife’s beef was well seasoned with a bit of sear on the strips while my broth was delicious just the way the kitchen prepared it: layers of flavor with just a hint of sweetness.

Pho ga

The only thing I added at the beginning was a squeeze of the lime that had been provided on the side to add a little brightness. About half-way through, I decided to add the bean sprouts, and to tear up and add the Thai basil, which added additional layers of flavor.

Additional items for your pho (if you really think you need them...)

While I have reached for the provided hoisin and Sriracha sauces at other pho restaurants, they went untouched at Origin. Why mess with perfection?

In addition to the larger entrees like those we enjoyed (and took some home for later), Origin also has four versions of bahn mi on the menu for those wanting a lighter meal.

Origin has a main dining room and a cozy little bar, which I expect we’ll be trying in the near future. After all, there’s a lot of menu left to explore.

Join us, won’t you? Even if you aren’t anywhere near Des Moines, I can promise you it’s worth the drive.

Origin Vietnamese Bistro is located at:

727 S. 223rd Street
Des Moines, WA 98198
(206) 592-2637

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Photos by Carl Dombek 
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