Red and green, considered lucky colors in the East, set the ambience, while lacquered dark wood furniture lends elegance in this simple yet gracious setting. Fortune plants and charms litter the counter, reflecting the owners' penchant for all things lucky and prosperous.
In their pursuit of health-oriented clientele, Asian or otherwise, Tan and Luu have spurned the fast-food philosophy. Luu cooks up family recipes handed down by her mother, Lan Ta, who also helps out during the day. "We serve home-style food, fresh-cooked from scratch, with no MSG," said Tan.
When Tan is not at the restaurant, he works as Information Technology (IT) Manager in Walnut Creek. His allergic aversion to monosodium glutamate (MSG) makes it hard for him to find a restaurant - other than La Reve - where he can enjoy Asian cuisine. "I love beef noodle soup, but I couldn't find any without MSG," he said. "We don't use powder marinades, either. We chop real garlic and use fresh condiments. Our egg rolls are freshly made, not pre-packaged."
La Reve's bestsellers include the Pho Dac Biet, Chef's Special Beef and Noodle Soup. For $7.95, you get beef broth, rice noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro and jalapeno, topped with thin slices of ribeye and beef balls - a sure-fire way to warm your winter nights.
Also popular is the Bun Thit Nuong, Vermicelli in a Bowl topped by barbecue pork, accompanied by Vietnamese-style salad, mint leaves, pickled carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts and fish sauce with ground peanuts. Barbecue lovers also gravitate to the Barbecue Pork over Rice.
The Imperials Rolls, or Chia Gio, featuring ground pork, shrimp, black mushrooms, onions, cilantro, and carrots, are delicious by themselves or dipped in a sweet and sour sauce. For those who like to nibble on chicken wings, La Reve's Special Chicken Wings blow away the bar competition. They're lightly coated, fried and served on a bed of lettuce. The sauce is outstanding.
Luu whips up a mean Mango Pearl shake, blended with brewed teas from far away - cooling to the palate, bidding a sweet farewell to your culinary adventure.
La Reve Vietnamese Cuisine, 3303 Deer Valley Blvd. (at the far end of the Safeway complex) in Antioch is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The telephone number is 778-8008.