It's actually shocking that it's taken me this long to write a review of Vina, a wonderful little restaurant in Richfield. Growing up, my family ordered take-away from Vina on a regular basis. And it was always the same thing: an order of the egg rolls and lo mein. All for me. I vividly remember driving home from a track meet in high school and stopping off at Vina for some celebratory egg rolls. And I didn't even do that well in my events! My mom and I still love going to Vina for dinners, and I'll sometimes call her just to talk about the egg rolls (i.e. try to convince her to bring me some). So when my dad went out of town for work this week, my mom and I sent up a dinner night at Vina.
The restaurant is on an unassuming corner in Richfield, right on 64th and Nicollet. It's small, never terribly busy, but it hasn't changed in years and the regulars (me!) continue to frequent Vina. The service is great, the food is flavorful and hot, and that's why I've been coming back to Vina for over ten years. This time around, things seemed to have changed a little bit, but the basic elements of Vina remained the same.
My mom and I started with cream cheese wontons, which were served with a sweet side, almost like a duck sauce. I polished off my three wontons in seconds. The cream cheese filling seemed heartier than usual -- not just cream cheese but something else that I couldn't quite pinpoint. Whatever it was, it added an extra bounce of flavor.
But the pièce de résistance of Vina is the egg roll. I've turned many people onto these egg rolls and I can say with absolute confidence that they are the best egg rolls I have ever eaten. The egg roll wrapper is crunchy and the inside is filled with crisp vegetables and other savory ingredients, but not overrun with cabbage (a common problem I've seen in egg rolls). What really makes these egg rolls supreme is the dipping sauce. It's aromatic, amazingly flavorful, and has a light sugary and vinegary warmth that also complements any main dish. If I had just a little less class, I would probably sip it secretly like a tea! I could eat both large egg rolls easily. But I try to share when possible!
My entree is always the veggie lo mein. The veggies are soft but still have a bite, the noodles are springy, and the peanuts on top are delightful. The nutty flavor pervades the entire dish, adding an extra layer of saltiness and crunch. I could hardly contain myself -- even after three cream cheese wontons and an egg roll, I nearly polished off this entire large plate of saucy noodles. I finally resisted so I could bring some for lunch, but all evening I had to resist the temptation to open up my take-out container and dig in. I'm serious. Vina is that tasty.
Food, service, atmosphere, and price all come together for a pretty great experience at Vina. If you're in the Richfield area, check out their lunch and dinner specials. There is a Vina in Highland Park in St. Paul as well. I've been there and the food is just as good, but I'll always prefer my Richfield location.