- crosby_p Jan 11, 2008 04:44 AM
I've read a lot on this board about Saigon Remembered on York Road not being a good place at all...this morning, on the homepage of the Sun online, there is a section called Souped Up by Metromix...there are quite a few pictures of soups, and where they are from, and one is Pho Tai Chin at Saigon Remembered. The writer is talking about it as if it's the best ever, and the picture certainly looks tempting. Never having had pho, and thinking it's time, I had completely removed Saigon Remembered from the lexicon, as posters don't like it, neither the food, or the staff. Should I reconsider? It is a lot closer than those in Catonsville!
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In its previous location, under the name "Saigon Restaurant", I loved the place. Then several years ago, they moved, and I believe ownership changed. Over the next year or two, I gave the new "Saigon Remembered" plenty of chances - and trust me, I generally give even the worst places another shot, on the assumption that even the best places can have a bad night, or even a horrible one. Based on my own experience, and that of other Hounds, I finally wrote them off, and I haven't been there in a few years.
Things change. Maybe they've got new people running the place. Maybe they got their act together. It's possible. I may need to read the article you reference to see what the author has to say about other places I'm familiar with, to try and calibrate whether I should trust their opinion on Saigon Remembered now being worthy of a return.
If you do decide to give them a try based on the Sun rec or your own curiosity (proximity or convenience can be a very big incentive at times!), please post your experiences. I'd be very happy to give S.R. another shot and even change my opinion of them. It's just that they have achieved the status on my "list" where I'm not gonna be the *first* one to give them another shot. I'm waiting until I hear a few reliable reports of improvement before I even think about a return.
I really wouldn't bother with Saigon Remembered, but if you've never had pho, you really wouldn't know if it's good or not. ;-)...Anyway, my go to VN place is Pho #1 in the Westview Shp Cntr just inside the beltway on rte 40. Although it's where I go, I do find the quality of the pho to be highly inconsistent, but even that ranges from pretty good to excellent. With hope, you'll catch it on an excellent day!
I feel your pain, but i've come to realise that it's much better to drive the extra distance to Catonsville or Columbia and get good Pho than whip around the corner for very sub-par Pho...at least, that's what I've been doing this whole winter when ever the Pho cravings strike - which have been weekly!
It will be good to see another restaurant in the Cultured Pearl spaces. The recent wave of development on the west side of MLK a few blocks north may be triggering gentrification of the area. I was nearly heartbroken, though, when I went to the pizza place down the block (SW corner of Hollins Market), and found that the building that had housed Gypsy's Cafe was gone. Replaced by a small park with a bear statue, IIRC.
I have fond memories of Gypsy's, my favorite being a time when two companions asked the waiter if they could split an entree-sized spinach salad (with the hot bacon dressing, and hard boiled egg slices) since that salad would go better with the entrees they were planning on ordering. The waiter looked at us conspiratorially, and said "It's my job to serve as the intermediary between you and the artists in the kitchen. Here's the problem. The guy who does that salad has a thing about presentation, and he'd go ballistic if I asked him to split one - it would spoil the aesthetic effect, or something. So I'll make you a deal. I'll order you the salad, and split it onto two plates myself at the waiter's station and bring it to you. Your part of the deal is that you don't complain about what it looks like, and for God's sake, PLEASE don't let anybody in the kitchen know what we've done!"
I've only been to Saigon Remembered once about a year ago. I went with some Vietnamese friends around Lunar New Year, and the owner took to us. She said that we reminded her of her children, and she was worried that they wouldn't have good food to eat when they went to college! So besides what we ordered, she brought out a bunch of additional traditional homecooked Vietnamese dishes, and was incredibly warm and gracious.
The unfortunate part of it was that the food was really not very good, though I really wanted to like it. The pho broth was too salty and really did not have any depth of flavor, as good pho should. The noodles also didn't have the consistency or texture it really should have.
I don't claim to be a Vietnamese food connosieur, but I've been a pho addict for the last 10 years, and have tried pho all over the country. I've also travelled through Vietnam and had some incredible food there. I've tried the pho at every location I could find within 15 miles radius of Baltimore, and for my money, the best pho I've had is at Pho Nam, a little further west on Route #40 than Pho #1. When I first tried it, I thought it was pretty good for Baltimore, and definitely reasonable for my pho fix. When I came back from Los Angeles where I had what I *KNEW* was good pho, then had pho again at Pho Nam, I was surprised that it was still really quite decent in comparison.
6477 Baltimore National Pike
Catonsville, MD 21228
Note: Pho Nam closes earlier than you think, and also on one of the weekdays... think it's Monday, but I'm not sure.
As I recall, Pho Nam is "cash only". Not usually a big deal for something as inexpensive as Pho, but still potentially embrassing if one does not notice the sign and has no cash. No, it did not happen to me, just a useful thing to know. And it is very good, at least among the places I've tried here and elsewhere.