Back on the Vietnamese trail, we wanted to give Saigon another try. We hadn’t been for years and I had never had their pho. I have been having fun comparing different versions at different places and was anxious to try it.
Hubby and I met up with @zigged and her husband for dinner. I loved having the opportunity to have more people to get to try more things! We started off with the Vietnamese pancake (of course, it’s one of my favorites) ($8.95) and the crispy rice pudding ($8.50). The pancake was good—the crepe aspect of it nice and crispy and thin. They all generally come filled with sliced pork and shrimp (not a lot of shrimp here) and bean sprouts. I enjoyed it but for some reason, not as much as some of the others I have had. I don’t think it had as much of the green onion flavor as some I have had and the pork wasn’t as seasoned. I like the seasoned fish sauce for dipping—giving it a bit of salt and a bit of tanginess.
The rice pudding was very interesting. It was cubes of the soft rice cakes that were stir fried with egg and scallions and served with a thicker, soy based sauce. The cakes were soft yet firm, and slightly crisp on the outside. The eggy mix added a bit of substance to them, making them definitely savory. A bit of the lightly pickled radish and carrots on the side was a nice addition to the bites. A dip in the sauce added the salty flavor and a touch of sweetness. The longer we continued eating these, the more we couldn’t stop.
I had the rare beef pho ($8), and while it was good, I still think there are better around town. The broth just didn’t have the richest flavor of all the ones I have tried, although it was still very good. I do like that it looks like they literally put the beef in raw and let the broth alone cook it (the top parts of the meat poking out of the broth were still very pink). I was a little disappointed with the amount of fresh herbs you get here—and all of it is Thai basil and none of it was cilantro (the picture you see in the background is the plate for two bowls of pho). I like a bit of both. They give you plenty of bean sprouts though and nice juicy wedges of lemon which I love to add for the extra bit of brightness. I also throw in some jalapenos for touch of spiciness, although I do not eat them. I just let them flavor the broth a bit.
Hubby ordered the clay pot pork ($9.95), which was probably the best dish on the table. The pork had a spicy, peppery seasoning that was great. Not so much a sauce, as a spice rub almost. The pork was tender. The only thing I thought was a little weird is that they served the rice on the side. The rice was good-just the right amount of sticky factor, but usually when I have had a clay pot, the rice is on the bottom of the pot and cooked that way so that it is a bit caramelized and crispy on the bottom and has absorbed a bit of the flavor of whatever is cooked on top. I would have loved to see this in this dish.
Sacha’s hubby had the mixed grill ($14.95), which also had a wonderful rich flavor—you could taste the smoky grilled taste on all the meat—which included chicken, pork and shrimp. It was served with a side of rice noodles that were cold, and thus not my favorite thing (I am not a huge fan of cold noodles). I am not sure if they were warm to start or not. The meat on the dish was very good. I might be tempted to order it with rice though, just because rice tends to stick together better and stay warmer.
You have to love the fact that the place used to be a Bob Evans. You can tell they have tried to change it up a bit, but it still has the distinctive Bob Evans bones. But I am always happy to see a former chain turn into an independent restaurant.
Saigon has a huge menu though—162 items to be precise. I would love to know what your favorite items are.
4760 W. 38th Street