Two-month-old Lúa Viet restaurant opened in the spot vacated by Woodruff's Cafe in Sebastopol. The new owners have remodeled the place to give it a sleek, modern feel, with bamboo furnishings and amoeba-like, neon-ringed light fixtures running the length of the narrow restaurant.
Lúa Viet is the city's only Vietnamese eatery, and it serves a mix of classics and a few creative flings. I went straight for the pho bo ($9.75 small; $11.75 large), a beef noodle soup with filet mignon, brisket and little meatballs. Pho depends on the strength of the broth, and here it lacked the depth of flavor and aromatics that make the noodle soup so good, but it's still a satisfying dish.
Better was the barbecue pork ($9.75 small; $11.75 large), tender slices marinated in shallots, garlic, sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce. It's served over rice noodles or rice (brown or white). Everybody loves spring rolls, and they're lovable here, fresh and refreshing, and available with shrimp, pork or chicken ($6.95). I like the shrimp.
There are a few Korean surprises on the menu, like the Korean beef tacos made with Kobe-style Snake River Farms beef and grilled pineapples ($8.50), and the messy but good kimchi lettuce wraps ($8.75), a mound of barbecue pork with kimchi and various herbs and fresh vegetables rolled into a leaf of lettuce.
Friendly service and outdoor seating make Lúa Viet a good addition to Sebastopol's dining scene. 966 Gravenstein Hwy. S., Sebastopol. 707.824.8888.