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Saigon Deli Rocks - Tampa

rebecca.kukla Aug 1, 2008 05:41 AM

I've only found one very brief, passing chowhound comment about this place so I thought I would give it props.

Awesome, authentic Vietnamese restaurant connected to an awesome Vietnamese/Asian supermarket on Waters just east of Dale Mabry. Even though it's in a store, sort of, it's bright and cheerful and clean and reasonably spacious.

I thought the Pho was at least as good as at Pho Quyen and a bit cheaper ... and I was happier with this place because it had the proper array stuff to dump in the soup, missing everywhere else in Tampa as far as I know. The most authentic (and in my view yummiest) Pho should come with long, narrow, tough, slightly lemony greens (I've never known what they are called) along with the basil, sprouts, peppers, and lime. Pho Quyen and many other places skip the more exotic leaves and just have the other stuff, and I always miss the leaves.

Anyhow this Pho was exemplary and as far as I can tell completely authentic, and I am excited to try their other menu items.

There was a thread a while back started by someone looking for Moon Cakes - they have them in this store, along with a great array of fresh exotic fruits and vegetables, a good meat section, and lots more.

Dare we hope that in a few years, Tampa will get to claim West Waters as a proper Asian district? We already have Saigon Deli, Yummy House, China Yuan, and several Asian supermarkets and tea shops along or just off Waters...

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    travelnfood RE: rebecca.kukla Aug 1, 2008 07:04 AM

    I second Saigon Deli....it's far superior to Pho Quyen imho. bahn mi and bun are sure bets, and don't forget some vietnamese iced coffee next time you go.

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      andy huse RE: rebecca.kukla Aug 1, 2008 07:19 AM

      sounds wonderful. I will make a visit and report back.

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        TampaAurora RE: rebecca.kukla Aug 1, 2008 07:22 AM

        It sounds like the herb is lemongrass.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TampaAurora
          rebecca.kukla RE: TampaAurora Aug 1, 2008 10:01 PM

          It's not lemongrass - not as lemony or as skinny and I know what lemongrass looks like. It's also tougher than lemongrass. It's a staple in every truly authentic vietnamese restaurant I have ever been to and I have never seen it anywhere else. I've asked the waiters in a couple of places and only gotten a Vietnamese name I can't reconstruct, though this doesn't mean there is not a more common English name too.

        2. rhnault RE: rebecca.kukla Aug 1, 2008 08:18 AM

          I have been in the market but never eaten there. Is there a proper place to eat there? I gave it a quick glance when I was in the market but was a little intimidated because I saw NO english anywhere. But this was probably close to 2 years ago and I have gotten braver in foreign establishments lol.

          11 Replies
          1. re: rhnault
            travelnfood RE: rhnault Aug 1, 2008 11:56 AM

            yes, there are tables...you just sit down like a regular restaurant and they have table service (you might have to get someone's attention). the menu is in vietnamese and english, so you won't have any problems.

            1. re: travelnfood
              rhnault RE: travelnfood Aug 1, 2008 12:45 PM

              Thanks for the update! I have only had bahn mi once in St Pete and I love them and Pho Quyen doesn't serve them. The lemon grass in the soup sounds wonderful as well.

              1. re: rhnault
                rebecca.kukla RE: rhnault Aug 1, 2008 10:03 PM

                Not lemongrass! See above. :-) But yes yummy.

                1. re: rebecca.kukla
                  tommyvee RE: rebecca.kukla Aug 2, 2008 12:02 PM

                  Yep. Culantro is it's common name and is used widely in Latin American cooking. It tastes like cilantro IMO.


                  We're in Tampa for a seminar and will check this place out. Thanks for the suggestion.

                  1. re: tommyvee
                    rhnault RE: tommyvee Aug 2, 2008 12:13 PM

                    We went there earlier and I had the pho and I recognized the lemony cilantro. You can by it at the Latin market on Hanley in front of Wal Mart.

            2. re: rhnault
              rebecca.kukla RE: rhnault Aug 1, 2008 10:03 PM

              Almost everyone there was Vietnamese but it was not intimidating to manage in English. The menu was transliterated and the waitresses appeared to be Vietnamese-American high school girls with perfectly fluent English.

              1. re: rebecca.kukla
                rhnault RE: rebecca.kukla Aug 2, 2008 07:10 AM

                I think we cold be taking a trip to Waters and Dale Mabry this afternoon. I also really want to know what this lemongrass type herb is. I have seen lemon basil but it still looks like basil. Here is a good google link I just read. http://www.epicurean.com/articles/exo...

                1. re: rhnault
                  rebecca.kukla RE: rhnault Aug 2, 2008 07:16 AM

                  AHA! And the answer is ...

                  It's "thorny cilantro", or ngo gai in vietnamese. gotta love the internet. :-)

                  1. re: rebecca.kukla
                    rhnault RE: rebecca.kukla Aug 2, 2008 07:47 AM

                    google is our friend lol

                2. re: rebecca.kukla
                  Mild Bill RE: rebecca.kukla Aug 2, 2008 11:36 AM

                  The guy who's usually at the restaurant register orchestrating the goings-on is super friendly...
                  Everybody there is, it seems... Engrish is almost never a problem...

                  They make a stir fry noodle thing there that looks like 'lo mein' that is really generous and delicious...

                  The grocery's meat section is a scene... Mostly fish and porky parts...

                  I usually wrap up a visit with an Avocado Boba Shake with no Bobas...

                  Stupid chewey nothing balls... :-)

                  1. re: Mild Bill
                    rhnault RE: Mild Bill Aug 2, 2008 12:17 PM

                    We had a boy who understood no engrish and as a result my husband had a very negative banh mi experience. My pho was pretty good. Broth was tasty but I think we'll be sticking to Pho Quyen. Also I am making some pretty tasty Bun at home this summer ; - )

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                andy huse RE: rebecca.kukla Apr 12, 2009 02:17 PM

                I've been twice this weekend. excellent soup, bahn mi, rolls, and entrees. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca--- this one is a real find. during the week there's lots fo good hot dishes in the steam line as well.

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                  digyourself RE: rebecca.kukla Jun 23, 2009 08:02 PM

                  Checked this place out for the first time this weekend. Woah. The Bahn Mi was amazing. Serious flavors. I also bought a couple of the packaged mystery items to check out. Awesome. We are lucky to have places like this here in Tampa. Take advantage of them.

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