Ugh, I hate the sophomore slump. You know, the second time you go somewhere you really liked the first time (applies to movies and bands a lot too) and it lets you down the next time. I don’t know, maybe it was all our fault and I ordered wrong (I am confident I will hear about it from you all if that is the problem, and go ahead and start yelling at me for not trying the Pho now) but I was not nearly as impressed this time with Saigon this time. Nothing was bad, but let’s just say, I am glad it wasn’t my first time. Because I might not head back if it was.
So we started with the steamed dumplings ($2.95). These were actually fine—a lot like a classic pot sticker, minced pork and seasonings inside a slightly thinner wonton wrapper than a lot of pot stickers. I preferred this slightly thinner wrapper so that you didn’t feel like you were totally bloated after eating them—and there were 6, so between 2 people, I was already starting to feel pretty full after eating 3 of them. But they were fresh and hot, and all in all, probably the best thing we had on this visit. But they weren’t amazing. (You can also get them pan fried if you want that crisp edge).
Before we had even arrived, hubby was excited about trying their version of Shaking beef (here called “shaky steak” or Bo Luc Lac for those following along in Vietnamese) ($8.50). We had had the Cambodian version recently at the Asian Grill, and had really enjoyed it, and it had awakened the need to try it again at a Vietnamese place. So, it was pretty disappointing. The beef was cubed, and of good quality and fairly tender, but there was little to no seasoning flavor. There were some onions, green peppers and tomatoes stir fried in as well. But I know from making it myself that there are a lot of differing seasonings and ingredients used (at least in the recipe I used), and I couldn’t really taste much of any of it here. It also didn’t have that slightly crispy edge on the meat that comes from frying it at a really high heat and then adding the sauce, which is something hubby really likes about this dish at other places. So this is a dish I wouldn’t order again.
We also had their version of the Vietnamese pancake ($5.25), which is also something I have really enjoyed at several places. It was better than the beef, but only average in comparison to others I have had. The “pancake” is sort of like a crepe that is heavy on the egg, and is served with thin sliced pork, shrimp and a ton of bean sprouts inside. Again, there was nothing inherently wrong with the dish; it just didn’t get me as excited as some others. It was served with a sweet fish sauce on the side that really brightened it up—dipping the pancake in it certainly made me enjoy it more. Actually, I started dipping the beef in there too. It wasn’t overly sweet, not thick and syrupy or anything. It was a thin sauce and tasted like it had a fair amount of lime, as well as I am assuming fish sauce, some red chili and some sweetener, but not too much. I enjoyed the sauce with it all. The fresh lettuce and basil with the crepe was nice as well to give it a fresh crunch with the crepe.
So that’s it. Nothing was terrible, but honestly, in almost each dish, I can think of a place, in Indy no less, that does it better. So I will go back and try other things (and the menu is freakin’ enormous), but like I said, I am sure glad this wasn’t my first visit. Let’s hope the third time’s a charm.
3103 Lafayette Road