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Saigon Grill overrated?

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  • parkslopemama Jan 26, 2004 09:58 AM

I recently tried Saigon Grill for the first time, while visiting a friend on the Upper West Side. It is is the top-rated Vietnamese restaurant in Zagat's, and has also received favorable mentions here at chowhound.com. I didn't think it was all that! Does anyone agree with me that Saigon Grill is overrated? Also, can anyone recommend a really good, authentic Vietnamese restaurant, preferably cheap? Are those places in Chinatown near the jury-duty spots any good (I forgot the names offhand)?

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  1. I think you'll find that Saigon Grill isn't highly rated among the majority of chowhounds. If you are indeed a park slope mama, then you should head to Brooklyn Chinatown for the best Vietnamese in NYC. There are four or five good to great places in Sunset Park and another one in Bath Beach. Do a search for past posts, and if you still need help after that, post again. Best of luck.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Peter Cuce

      BTW, forgot to mention that most of the places on Baxter St, such as Nha Trang, New Pasteur are mediocre to decent, but my most-liked Manhattan Chinatown spot is Pho Bang on Mott St. A recent visit there found that the pho broth was a little watery but my favorite shrimp chips w/pork dish was still as good as in the past.

      1. re: Peter Cuce

        I had a bowl of pho from Pho Bang on Mott this past Friday. The broth was very rich. But very salty - I was dying of thirst for hours...although while I was eating it I was very happy.

        1. re: Nina W.

          i don't find the pho at pho bang on mott to be very authentic...

          try the pho at nam son on grand and bowery--still doesn't live up to my childhood (i grew up in a vietnamese household near san jose, ca) but out of the pho i've had in manhattan, it's my favorite....though i still need to try those restaurants in brooklyn

        2. re: Peter Cuce

          Totally love Pho Bang. We make a weekly trip to Chinatown for their pho, especially in this weather. The shrimp chips with grilled beef is called banh tap, and have yet find it anywhere else. I wouldn't go to Saigon Grill if you paid me. Even the grilled stuff doesn't taste authentic.

      2. compared to other vietnamese restaurants uptown like monsoon, it's decent--but far from great...or totally authentic.

        zagat is probably one of my least favorite resources when it comes to authentic ethnic food.

        1. It really depends what you get at SG, while not particularly authentic their grilled dishes such as the pork chops or shrimp are excellent. If you want more authentic food in Manhattan head down to chinatown to new pasteur, nha trang, pho bang.

          1. I order from the East Side branch fairly frequently. I always order the same few things: chicken sate, curry chicken, grilled eggplant, or a spicy coconut soup whose name escapes me. I think those items are quite good, although I've run into trouble when exploring other parts of the menu.

            The most amazing thing about Saigon Grill (the Eastside branch, at least) is the speed of the delivery. I swear I've received some orders in five minutes. I don't know how they do it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Caseophile

              Due to its proximity to my gf's, I've been to SG on the Eastside a few times. It's fine, it's a decent value, I've enjoyed it. If it was not convenient, I would not go there. Doesn't come close to the food Vietnam served three years ago.

              1. re: Captain

                I'm not sure it's even worth the convenience.
                I've given SG several tries and am repeatedly disappointed- this despite low expectations because of the location. I simply don't understand the raves this place repeatedly gets.
                Vermicelli is a much better UES bet (although I agree that SG is cheaper, and that Chinatown is really where it's at for Vietnamese).

            2. I didn't know it was rated that highly. SG is good for a cheap taste of Vietnamese, but this is dumbed down Vietnamese. This is not to say I don't enjoy SG. I think that their Basil Chicken and Bun with Grilled Steak are better than any dish at the thousands of Chinese places in the city, for instance, and are not as saccharine as the dishes at most Thai in the city. I like Pho Viet Huong in Chinatown for more authentic offerings. On the other hand, if I am driving out of the city around dinner time and am in proximity to the UWS, SG is a better alternative to Vietnamese in Westchester (I am yet to find ANY), and to most other cheap Asian offerings in the county.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jkos

                Have you been to Pho Viet Huong recently? I feel like it's gone way downhill over the last couple of years.

                1. re: Peter Cuce

                  I went there a week ago and had the same feeling; definitely going downhill.

                  1. re: 718Eater

                    Please elaborate on how it has gone downhill. I used to work on Lafayette and used to go there all the time because it was so good. I changed offices about four years ago and was thinking of stopping by next time I was in C-town. I'd hate to waste my time.

              2. I didn't know it was rated that highly. SG is good for a cheap taste of Vietnamese, but this is dumbed down Vietnamese. This is not to say I don't enjoy SG. I think that their Basil Chicken and Bun with Grilled Steak are better than any dish at the thousands of Chinese places in the city, for instance, and are not as saccharine as the dishes at most Thai in the city. I like Pho Viet Huong in Chinatown for more authentic offerings. On the other hand, if I am driving out of the city around dinner time and am in proximity to the UWS, SG is a better alternative to Vietnamese in Westchester (I am yet to find ANY), and to most other cheap Asian offerings in the county.

                1. dont agree the curry ga ;) is out of this world -

                  1. They are telling us that delivery above 110th street is $100 minimum (or $50 depending on who answers the phone). This is stupid -they will be losing a lot of business from us south Harlem residents who rode out the strike and kept coming in for the food. It was convenient, but the attitude makes it sour.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: kencam

                      Isn't the uptown location closed? I'd make sure to get a minimum order of $100 to travel 100 blocks, as well, if I was Saigon Grill. But then again, I don't eat there because I don't think the food is very good.

                      1. re: kencam

                        the strike is still going on, fyi.

                        1. re: LJW

                          This all sounds really strange to me - I don't think SG is authentic, but it is very tasty and affordable and some dishes they do are just plain great. Also, they've advertised for the last year at least that they don't deliver at all. They stopped delivery service because of the issues with the workers and have never mentioned a minimum order of 100 dollars to us.

                          1. re: foodmusic

                            I agree. I have only been to the University Place location, but the food is very good for the price. So what if it is or isn't authentic? However, I would caution anyone going for takeout that some dishes do not travel well. Spring rolls, and the pancakes that come with a pork dish turned rubbery by the time I got them home. When I had them in the restaurant, they were fine.

                          2. re: LJW

                            that's incorrect. the strike has been over for at least a month or so. however, I have to agree that SG is not all it's cracked up to be. I've ordered from there for about 7 years and the only things worth ordering are the appetizers. when you venture into the entrees, you're asking for disappointment. I ordered there for the first time since the strike and it was average at best. the veggie spring rolls which used to be excellent are all dough, no veggies.

                        2. As far as I'm concerned, not a single NYC Vietnamese restaurant is spectacular, including saigon grill. they are only decent and passable...You might say I'm not being realistic, but hey, i was born there and eat Vietnamese food everyday so that should count for something. I mostly frequent Pho Xe Lua in chinatown because it is decent and they speak Vietnamese..while others mainly speak chinese.

                          Recommended dishes to try at Pho Xe Lua other then pho: Banh Cuon (rice crepes), Bun Rieu (Crap/seafood soup)

                          1. i think Saigon Grill is mediocre to terrible...

                            Doyers Vietnam in Chinatown can be good, especially when they have soft-shelled crabs, and the eel and the carmel chicken (constants on the specials board) are solid...