I've eaten Viet food in at least 50 different restaurants from coast to coast, have Viet friends and have enjoyed many new year's dinners in private homes and so know something of the food and what is good and what is bad. Well, the worst, I mean the absolute worst Viet food I've ever had was today's lunch at Saigon, the venerable icon of Vietnamese food in Wichita. The odd thing is that the menu is one of the only one i've seen in town to branch a bit away from the cliched noodles and soups and lame (because of the crappy bread in this town) banh mi (sandwiches). So I thought i'd end up with a decent chow on goi cuon (so called spring rolls) and chargrilled chicken with rice. Well I was wrong. Maybe the rest of the menu is stellar, but the goi cuon were mostly filled with soggy noodles, little meat or shrimp and little or no herb highlights, often a longitudinal chive or garlic chive is laced through the roll to add a nice zip to the flavors. Not here. Little flavor and the texture was wrong. D- on this.
Now, the chicken. What arrived was a plate of pink, skinless chicken pieces which, upon examination, were rubbery and clearly not grilled, but probably boiled. where the pink color came from, I don't know, but there was absolutely NO flavor whatsoever. Grilled? It might have spent a few seconds on a gas grill or grill pan, i could detect the slightest hint of that, but certainly the grill was not the principal method of cooking.
I can't imagine, in spite of the menu, that I will ever bother to go back. I'll leave that to the rest of the city to wallow in.....apparently most in this town think this is the best Vietnamese in town. It surely is not.
I had wonderful Bahn Cuon with grilled pork and Vietnamese pork roll yesterday at Bida Saigon on E. Harry. Only available on the weekend, too bad...but I've posted about this before. Since it is a rather modest place, no, it's a step above a dump, most folks will never venture in. Too bad, it's light years ahead of the other Saigon.