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Jul 7, 2008 11:19 AM

"Big Saigon" on Rockville Pike?

I was on Rockville Pike recently when I noticed that the former Jerry's Sub shop across from Wintergreen Plaza is being replaced by something called "Big Saigon." The sign says pho and other Vietnamese dishes. The liquor license application is in a window.

This place will be about 75 feet from Ba Le Vietnamese Deli, a place that makes banh mi, noodle dishes, pho, and more. Very reasonable prices for good food.

Does anyone out there know anything about "Big Saigon" and why it's obviously trying to knock out Ba Le, a place that's been around for a good number of years now?

Must be a story there...

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  1. Although I've seen Ba Le a million times, driving up or down the pike, it wasn't until I started hearing so much about it's merits here, so I dropped in a few days ago, and it was so amazing that I've since been back three times this week and can't wait to take my friends there. So, I did notice Big Saigon as well. I sure hope that Ba Le has enough devoted followers to sustain the competition.

    1. Yes! I had the same reaction - why did they chose to set up shop right next to Ba Le? I tried Ba Le for the first time a couple weeks ago and loved it so much that I became a frequent customer, going as much as three times per week. Management is super friendly as well. Prices are great, just like food!!

      Big Saigon better be real good because I'm sticking with Ba Le.

      1. I regularly go to Ba Le, thought I would give Big Saigon a try yesterday, food was tasty and super reasonable prices. Plus is Big Saigon has alcohol. Toss up for food, both very good.

        1. I've been going to Ba Le for years and it is really good. But, I wouldn't use that as an excuse not to dine at Big Saigon. Ba Le makes the great Vietnamese sandwiches, which are very hard to find in Rockville. Their other dishes are good, but not unique.

          Big Saigon has a very full and interesting menu. I've been there about 3 times. The pho is excellent, as are the many entrees. It also has much more room for large groups than Ba Le.

          I plan to continue going to both places...and even to Pho 95, which is located in Richie Center, just across the street.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Sean D

            You had me until you endorsed Pho 95. I went once, and thought the pho tasted like dirty dishwater. Waited a year, gave them a second chance. Ate a quarter of the bowl and left to go a mile up the street to Pho 75.

            1. re: DanielK

              You could be right, Daniel. It's been a very long time since I've been to Pho 95. I understand its changed ownership.

              Give Big Saigon a try. The people I went with even agreed that their broth was unusually good.

            2. re: Sean D

              I stopped by Big Saigon the other night for take out after a very long work day. The staff was very friendly and recommended dishes to me. I thought the food was pretty good. I would like to go back and have dinner one night and try some of their other offerings. I hope they succeed in these trying times.

              1. re: susabella

                Under this board's recommendation, we went to Big Saigon today. The place looked large and clean perhaps making the waiter/waitress run around quite a bit. Therefore, service speed suffers, but not too bad. The rice dish was okay. Obviously we compared it to the Vietnamese place downtown silver spring (above Eggspectations) and the one in silver spring is definitely better. The Pho special was good. They gave more Basil than any place I have ever eaten (by a factor of 2.) The rest of the veggies were FRESH. The noodle was decent...except there was that familiar sweetness in the soup. I finished the noodle, not the soup. Then both my wife (who had the soup) and myself had the MSG headache for the next 2 hours. So, next time I have to ask them to hold the MSG...if they can do that. But I wonder what the noodle soup would taste like without it.

                1. re: cfoodie

                  >> compared it to the Vietnamese place downtown silver spring (above Eggspectations) and the one in silver spring is definitely better

                  Yikes, that's not a good sign - I ate at the SS place twice and crossed it off my list forever - terrible americanized vietnamese food.

                  My experience with pho is that they either use MSG or they don't, but they can't make it without if they do use it. But I wouldn't order pho in a non-pho house anyway, so I'm curious about the rest of their menu.

                  1. re: DanielK

                    I was there about a month ago and enjoyed my meal. I believe I had the "Big Saigon" combination - grilled skewers of beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp over a bed of rice noodles. The platter included a spring roll and small cluster of salad.

                    The meal was very good and the service was friendly and prompt. Even though I enjoy Ba Le (right next door) very much, I'd suggest that Big Saigon is a worthy option if you want a slightly more formal setting with table service.

                    For pho, I don't think you can go wrong with Pho 75 just a few miles north on Rockville Pike.

            3. I've been here a few times so far and I have to say... FINALLY! A great affordable fabulously divey Vietnamese place in Rockville! My sis and typical dining companion is vegitarian, so this has been awesome for us. Having lived in Arlington in the past, I got spoiled with Clarendon. I would go there any time I had reason to cross the Potomac. But no more! Yay!

              Service is a bit stressed because it seems like a family-run place and the waitstaff is limited -- but pretty competent and undeniably friendly. The portions are good sizes, but not ridiculous stuff-your-face portions, which is probably for our own good. All the veggies are fresh and pentiful. The awesome grilled pork over rice crepe noodles are my favorite. Along with grilled shrimp over vermicelli.

              Ba Le is a specialized sandwich place, just as Pho 75 is a pho place. This is more like an all around restaurant. The menu is pretty long and varied. I don't think they're trying to "knock out" Ba Le, it's a totally different kind of place. And a very welcome addition to Rockville in my book!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Shabooey

                I'd have to politely disagree with your comment that Ba Le is "a specialized sandwich place." Banh Mi are only a very small part of their menu. If you look around the small place, you'll see people eating a very large variety of dishes - noodle bowls, soups, and rice dishes.

                That being said, I've really enjoyed meals at both places and I agree Big Saigon is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

                I couldn't find a menu online for Big Saigon, but here's a link to Ba Le's:


                1. re: Shabooey

                  Folks, I'm grateful to have a choice of both Big Saigon and Ba Le. They are both really nice places to eat.

                  Ba Le is a great Vietnamese cafe. I don't see this as being a demeaning description. It's a very small restaurant with very low prices and a limited menu. You order at the counter and they bring you your food. Nothing fancy. Just great food at a great price.

                  Big Saigon is much bigger with bigger tables, a bigger menu, full table service, and its a tad bit more expensive. Again, great food at a great price.

                  I've eaten at both places, since Big Saigon opened and I plan to do so for a long time. One isn't a substitute for the other.