my husband and i tried this place last night based on the mixed reviews here... we live next door to Sripraphai, so our usual haunt is the Vietnamese place on 74th/Broadway/Roosevelt -- which we love.
we had a mostly excellent meal though at Little Saigon. it won't displace going to our usual, but we'll probably split our time between them.
we were hungry, and i was excited about the menu that had so many different offerings than the standard Vietnamese place (which seem to share the same menus generally, down to the number).
Vietnamese Lotus Tea -- $2.50/pot
a previous poster complained that they had to pay for tea. i like free tea too, but $2.50/pot is reasonable. they had many teas to choose from, loose leaf in the pot. we liked this one (very floral), but we'll probably go with the Vietnamese Jasmine tea next time.
Crispy Kim-Ting Shrimp (Tom Hoa Tien) -- $4.50/3
excellent! good-sized prawns in fried spring-roll wrapper stuffed with pork/crabmeat/etc.
Dumpling (Banh Xep) Pork w/mushrooms -- $2.95/5
i thought these were bland and boring, and mostly tasted of the dough. my Polish husband thought they were very tasty though. when i commented to him about the dough taste, he laughed and said that the Poles eat a lot of dough.
Little Saigon Salad (Goi Tom) -- $5.75
this was a disappointment, it is MUCH better at our usual place. at our usual place it has a LOT more cabbage and is garnished with basil (and costs $3.95 for a small). here the cabbage was skimpy and they used mint. they did have a lot more shrimp, which helped justify the cost difference, but the flavor didn't compete.
Pho (Chin Nam Gan Sach) -- $4.95
we had a little confusion, as my husband initially ordered #29 (pho bo). after they had taken our order, he was complaining that they didn't have pho with all the bits he likes (tripe, tendon, etc). i looked at the menu and found it much further down (#37) so he was able to switch the order after some confusion. however, we really liked the pho. we found it to be much LESS SALTY than our regular or other places (perhaps a better night than some previous posters?). the broth had a much more delicate flavor and was very floral and complex. a winner!
Saigon Pancake (Banh Xeo) -- $8.95
i was expecting "steamed rice crepe" (which i love and i don't see in enough Vietnamese restaurants, anyone know where i can get them??), but instead this was a fried pancake and DELICIOUS. ordered it the "traditional way" with shrimp and pork (other choices were shrimp & chicken or shrimp and squid). Pancake was crispy on the outside and made with rice flower and egg, folded in half over a filling of shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, scallion. husband compared it to the "pan fried mussels" at Sripraphai, although we both liked this better i think.
all in all an excellent meal. there are many other things i want to try on the menu, so we'll probably be back often.
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