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Restaurants & Bars Central South Birmingham Banh Mi

Birmingham: Banh Mi mania

Big Daddy | | Apr 13, 2009 08:37 AM

Dax, we finally got another place to eat Banh Mi, and I think you'll be happy.
Saigon Noodle House is a new restaurant on U.S. 280 at the Target plaza (the end near Best Buy and World Market).
They offer five kinds of Banh mi sandwiches, complete with that crisp crusty bread and some really nice pickled carrots (which have a sweet taste similar to pickled daikon radish). Peppers are included only upon request (they Do ask, though). They had jalapenos, and I forgot to ask if they kept some bird chiles back in the kitchen for the Vietnamese customers).
I had a variation of the Banh Mi Pate Thit Nguoi. They were out of the pork loaf, but the pate, roasted pork and especially the Vietnamese ham (lots of char su sauce) made for a great sandwich. The girl behind the counter recommended the Banh Mu Xiu Mai, the pork meatballs, which I plan to try today for lunch.
Each sandwich is $3.50, a great price.
They also offer six versions of spring rolls (although I did not see any fresh rolls, which would be a shame; I'll ask next time I'm in). The Cha Gio springrolls are not as meaty as those at Pho Que Huong in Homewood, but the shaved carrots help add to the crunch of the crispy spring roll wrapper. They also do shrimp, pork, combo, charbroiled pork and charbroiled pork patty spring rolls -- all at 3 for $3.95.
The entree menu includes your typical bun (rice vermicelli) and com (rice dishes). One that sounds especially intriguing is the Bun Bo Hue -- thick noodles in beef soup with well-done beef brisket, beef shank and pork hock. Sounds like one rich meal ($6.95).
I did not give the pho $6.95/$8.50; seafood regular bowl is $7.50) a sufficient chance to be properly assessed, because I got it to go (and it cooled when I had to make another stop so the rest of the family could eat). I think the tendons would have been softer and the rare "thinly sliced beef" would have cooked perfectly if the broth had been hotter when I added everything into the bowl. The pho comes with three types of herbs: cilantro, basil and anise-flavored leaves of rao ram.
Saigon Noodle Bowl does have a children's menu -- all real basic Vietnamese dishes (I had hungry children who weren't up for a challenge; we'll see another night how that portion of the menu rates).
Also, there's nothing overtly vegetarian on the menu. I hope to be able to work with the people there to develop something for my wife to eat.
No alcohol. Just teas and Vietnamese/French style coffee (including drip coffee), sodas, iced lemonade and iced soy drink, coconut drinks and tapioca smoothies (one of which is avocado?!?!?!?!).
Saigon Noodle Bowl is open seven days and does not close after lunch. Mon-Sat opening is 10 and it's 11 on Sunday. Closing is 9 Mon-Thu, 10 Fri and Sat and 7 on Sunday.
The staff is very helpful; a young group on Sunday. If you need advice; they'll be able to help.