Had the vegetarian dumpling soup at Cafe Saigon last night. A bodacious large bowl overflowing with 2" wide carrot shavings, snow peas, broccoli, cabbage, with copious large dumplings of minced veggies and garlic in a kind of paste. At first, the broth is salty and the veggies exta crunchy, but like other great dishes it gets better as it goes along. The soup cooks right in front of you, and part of the way through thebroth is transformed subtly, the veggies soften a bit, and the whole thing turns out glorious.
My wife had the vietnamese steak, and with tea and one flan the whole thing came out to $25 including tax and tip.
Here is my short list of sensational dishes at Cafe Saigon, for thems that are interested:
Vietnam Steak (maybe my favorite dish anywhere): cubes of marinated steak with sauteed red onions and peppers and fresh salad fixins, a lemon-pepper sauce on the side.
Pho - very subtle here
Hue spicy beef noodle soup
Stuffed grape leaves - grilled with a delicate char
Lemongrass pork and spring rolls over funny noodles
Cashew Tofu - actually mostly a bowl of vegetables in a faintly sweet broth, wonderful
Yellow Noodles with shrimp, beef, and chicken - a subtle, smokey flavor that gets better and better half way through
Crispy whole snapper with ginger and scallions
I'm not postive about the provenance of Cafe Saigon - so if anyone knows better, they can chime in - but I believe the owners began there, then opened Nam Viet two blocks away. At first, Cafe Saigon changed the menu to something substantially dfferent, but then went back to the old menu, essentially the same as Nam Viet. Have always had more success at Cafe Saigon, so I go ony there now. Clarendon, on Highland Street.