Andrea’s View: My view? After visiting Saigon Restaurant on West 38th Street on a Friday night, I only “see” good things in the future for the west side. I grew up on the west side, I went to high school at 30th and Tibbs, I shopped with my girlfriends and went to the movies at Lafayette Square, and my first real job was in a salon on Georgetown Road between 38th and Lafayette Road. I have witnessed the decline of the west side for a number of years. Recently the area has been reinventing itself with several small ethnic restaurants and grocery stores. The neighborhood is changing again and for the better. Saigon sits in a former Bob Evans restaurant. However, the only way you would know this is if you grew up on the west side. The restaurant is airy and fresh and bright. It’s quite spacious for an ethnic food restaurant. But it needs to be. This place was jammed on a Friday night with all types of people. Old people, young people, kids, caucasian, asian, black, and hispanic. Oh, you want to know about the food? It was superb. Dave and I met some friends and we all split the appetizer platter. It had the usual spring rolls, egg rolls, crab rangoon, etc. They were all very tasty. One standout was the lemongrass beef. It is marinated flank steak rolled up with cheese and then grilled. One can not go wrong with melted cheese with beef. My entrée was Bun Bi Thit Nuong. This is a big bowl of noodles with pork, shredded pork, (yes, I said pork twice), carrots, bok choy, and crushed peanuts. It is served with a mildly sweet vinegar sauce on the side. Pour a little of the sauce on top and stir everything together, and you have a wonderland of tastes and textures all mingling on your tongue. As we were leaving we all noticed and admired a large copper dancing Buddha statue between two large bamboo plants. I smiled because I felt just like that Buddha. My stomach was protruding, and I had a big smile on my face. Not just because I had a wonderful meal with my husband and my good friends, but because I see a great future for my former neighborhood. It is a great big melting pot, and even though it may be a bit old, and just a bit dusty, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great place to go on a Friday night.
Dave’s view: I was driving around in the parking lot and I was looking at this restaurant. That is a strange building, I thought. It’s gray and it reminds me of something, but I don’t know what until I asked Andrea.
“This used to be a Bob Evans.”
That’s what it is!!! They took the red off the outside of the building, watered down the red to a salmon color and placed it on the inside walls. They even kept the Bob Evans blinds. The kitchen, the counter, Bob Evans! I was expecting two side biscuits and some gravy. But the gravy was nowhere to be found. The only gravy in this restaurant is the food.
Fresh. The food here is just that. Fresh. I had the Bo Nuong Sa. It’s a grilled beef platter. It comes with the beef, four types of basil, noodles, lettuce, two sauces and seven rice papers. You basically are making your own soft taco, but these are much better than your standard tacos. The ingredients taste like they were just harvested. The beef was savory and the four types of basil were out of this world. This entrée, by far, was the freshest meal I’ve had all year.
And don’t forget when you leave, rub the belly. Not your own. You’ll see what I mean when you eat there.
Food: 9 Service: 9 Ambiance: 8 Total: 26 out of 30.