I’ve really grown to love Vietnamese food so I was pleased to discover there was a Vietnamese restaurant only a couple of blocks from our hotel. Saigon describes itself as an upscale Vietnamese restaurant, which it certainly was compared with some other Vietnamese restaurants I’ve eaten at that were more “hole in the wall” style. The decor was Asian inspired but subdued (as we dined there only a couple of days after Valentine’s Day, decorations for the holiday were still up).
The menu was quite extensive, featuring a variety of vermicelli, fish, chicken, beef, and vegetarian options along with different versions of pho, the ubiquitious Vietnamese dish.
I started off by ordering a glass of black tea bubble tea ($4). If you’re not familiar with bubble tea, it originated in tea shops in Taiwan during the 1980s and is made with tea and natural flavors and served over sweet and chewy pearls (also known as bobas) that are made from tapioca starch. It is served cold and the restaurant had a variety of flavors (lychee, watermelon, coconut, green tea, papaya and more). It was delicious and I greatly enjoyed sucking up the pearls into the fat straw that was provided and then proceeding to chew on them.
D and I split an order of the ch gi (crispy spring rolls) that consisted of pork, onions, and clear noodles and served with fish sauce for $6. The “crispy” part of the name was not an overstatement. They were extremely tasty although, as were both starving, I think anything would have tasted divine.
For my main course I went with ph si gn (pho Saigon). I’m not sure how it really differed from the standard pho but it featured rice noodles with rare beef, brisket, and beef meatballs for $11. There is nothing that tastes better than the broth in pho. It is so aromatic in taste, it puts chicken noodle broth to shame and I think would help make anyone feel better much quicker. Accompanying it were the standard toppings to mix in, basil, peppers, bean sprouts, and lime.
For his entree, D had the cm chin si gn (Saigon fried rice) which consisted of fried rice with shrimp, chicken, pork, eggs, carrots, onions and scallions for $16. It was an extremely large portion and while I only tried one of the shrimp, he ate all of it, which is always an accurate indication that the meal was good.
While service was prompt and attentive throughout our meal, my only critique is that our check was brought to the table without our ever being asked if we wanted to see a dessert menu. Since the check had been prepared we at that point were not going to make a fuss to see one, but all the same would have appreciated seeing what options there were.