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Sep 3, 2007 08:43 AM

Saigon Restaurant in Greensboro - did I miss the secret password?

I gave Saigon a try this past weekend, and while it shows some potential, I found the food somewhat bland and lacking in flavor and spice overall. Ordered the whole flounder with chili basil sauce (best of the bunch, though still far too mild for my tastes), a mixed seafood dish in a white sauce (bland, but fresh ingredients), and mixed BBQ over vermicelli in "chef's special sauce" (bland brown sauce and disappointing BBQ taste). The latter two dishes were the result of recommendations from the waiter.

I know this restaurant usually gets high reviews on this site and I would like to try it again, so I ask, where did I go wrong? Should I have stuck more to the traditional lemongrass dishes? Did the waiter mistake my solicitation of his opinion as ignorance (i.e. i was genuinely interested in what he thought were the top dishes, but did my question make me look like a novice and cause him to direct me to "safe americanized" dishes)?

So, are there any dishes you recommend? Is there a secret password I should speak in order to let the waiter know that I appreciate my food authentic?

As always, appreciate your advice and guidance...

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  1. I think the standout dishes at Saigon ate the Bun(vermicelli salads) I went for years before I tried them and now it is the only thing I go for. There are more "authentic" places in greensboro but I think Saigon give a good combo of authenticity, quality fresh ingredients and atmosphere. If the flounder is to mild they will surely spice it up. I would order the Bun Thit noung. grilled pork over vermicelli. I have had this dish in every viet place in town and saigon uses the good quality pork and grills it to perfection. Not spicy but fully of flavor

    2 Replies
    1. re: quazi

      Thanks for the tip Quazi. Are there other local vietnamese restaurants you'd recommend over Saigon? Authenticity and flavor are far more important to me than atmosphere.

      1. re: ericd74

        for the salad(bun) type dishes saigon is the best. for pho I like van loi(on hp road) and pho hien vong(spring garden). For roast pork banh mi and papaya salad - pakse @ freeman mill and florida. They also occasionally have laotian foods.

        There are also restys on wendover and three more on high point road(including the newly opened nhu y) These all seem to be middle of the road flavor wise to me

    2. I love Saigon! I gladly make the trek from Durham and call my orders while on the road 15 min. out, so I don't have to wait once seated. My favs are the papaya salad, beef w/ lemongrass (get two or you'll be fighting over this one!), chicken vermicelli, and caramel shrimp. They are very gracious and will spice up the food or hurry up the service (pre-concert), whatever you need.

      1. I have eaten at Saigon forever (back before they acquired Sally's hotdogs and expanded) and believe that Duckie - the owner - would do anything you wanted to to spice up your meal. I especially like any of their curry dishes. Friends and family drive from W-S all the time to eat there. I hope you will try it again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gso

          I've been to Saigon three times since moving to Winston-Salem just over a year ago. In my experiences, the food has ranged from good to very good and I would second quazi's grilled pork over vermicelli recommendation. I did find the food to be toned down a bit compared to similar dishes that I've had when living in Washington DC, but like gso said above, Duckie has been very accomodating when I've made requests or asked for recommendations.