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Chowhound Report - Miss SaiGon

j
jnredsie Oct 9, 2009 07:08 PM

Seven hungry chowhounds showed up at Miss SaiGon ( yup, for some reason they use a Capital "G") for lunch today. $17 pp later we left pleasantly stuffed, after a pleasant meal in pleasant surroundings...that being said, for me, it was a pleasant, unmemorable lunch that I wouldn't rush back for....except for the Bun cha ha Noi: Grilled ground pork, pork shoulder served with lettuce( for some reason they were VERY generous with the pork but skimped on the lettuce so not enough for wraps) vermicelli noodles, seasoned fish sauce dip, and herbs. Both the pork sausage and shoulder were tender and oozing flavor--totally delish.
( this succulent dish was picked by our fearless leader, Melanie Wong...natch.)

Other dishes we tried were:

1. Goi du du bo: Green papaya salad w/ beef jerky and peanuts

2. Chicken salad with cabbage

3. Banh Xeo: Vietnamese pancake with shrimp and pork

4.Com Tay Cam:Crunchy rice combo seafood pot

5. Bo Bit Tet: Grilled steak in wine sauce

6. Bo luc lad dac biet: shakend beef

7. Garlic noodles

I'll let the others weigh in on their faves.

-----
Miss Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant
100 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

  1. Melanie Wong Oct 10, 2009 05:42 PM

    J, thanks for starting off this thread, and again, great to see you after a long absence.

    I'll echo Ruth on the paucity of veggies being a bit odd. And what was served was not the freshest. The bean sprouts on the plate were rusty. I'm used to seeing giant piles of lettuce and herbs on the tables. We joked about Miss SaiGon being the "anti-TuLan", but this is one similarity.

    The meats for the bun cha hanoi were delicious. The rice noodles were on the soggy side and not formed into little cakes. And, the veggies looked sad. But if you're a carnivore, go for it.

    There was one more dish, butter garlic noodles made with fatter noodles vs. the garlic noodles with thin noodles. I don't recall seeing two types anywhere else.

    As you said, this was pleasant. I'll also say that nothing was bad or even below average, so this seems to be a pretty good spot to try if you're in the nabe for a show or such.

    P.S. I'm still impressed that our order taker remembered everything we wanted without writing it down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      j
      jnredsie Oct 11, 2009 06:37 PM

      Good point! I totally forgot that our server remembered every dish w/o writing it down. OBVIOUSLY he has a better memory than I do;-)

    2. Eugene Park Oct 9, 2009 11:35 PM

      Here's first set of pics of what we consumed......

       
       
       
       
      5 Replies
      1. re: Eugene Park
        Eugene Park Oct 9, 2009 11:42 PM

        And the next set.......

         
         
         
         
        1. re: Eugene Park
          Eugene Park Oct 9, 2009 11:44 PM

          And finally......

           
          1. re: Eugene Park
            grayelf Oct 9, 2009 11:59 PM

            That shaking beef looks good (no filler veg, yay) but why oh why must restaurants add underripe tomatoes, especially to dishes that need no tomatoes [end of rant]

            1. re: grayelf
              JasmineG Oct 10, 2009 09:30 AM

              This is exactly what I thought when the dish arrived at the table! I loved the shaking beef, but that pork dish was my favorite -- the meat was great and so flavorful. I could have eaten a lot more of that. The potatoes that were in with the shaking beef were really delicious, and the beef itself was cooked perfectly, nicely rare in the middle.

              1. re: JasmineG
                grayelf Oct 10, 2009 10:23 PM

                Thanks, all, for the details on the shaking beef. Potatoes in it is a new one for me. May have to put this on the now 65 page long list :-).

      2. Xiao Yang Oct 9, 2009 10:29 PM

        It would probably be useful to put the name of the restaurant in the title of the post.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Xiao Yang
          jillyju Oct 10, 2009 12:54 AM

          Where is this restaurant?

          1. re: jillyju
            AntarcticWidow Oct 10, 2009 08:49 AM

            link:

            -----
            Miss Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant
            100 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            1. re: AntarcticWidow
              Cynsa Oct 11, 2009 09:21 AM

              Located on the corner of 6th Street at Mission Street, this was a very busy lunch time, with some tables turning twice! Come here for meat dishes - especially the Bun cha ha Noi. Our thanks to Melanie for organizing and inspiring chowdowns - and to the good company of chowhounds.

        2. Ruth Lafler Oct 9, 2009 07:40 PM

          Usually I think of Vietnamese food as being all about the herbs and veggies. At Miss SaiGon, it's all about the meat. Generous quantity and really well cooked -- in addition to the bun cha ha Noi, perhaps the best version of "shaking" beef I've ever had, and a rib-eye steak with a delicious French-inspired wine-mustard sauce. The crunchy rice seafood pot suffered from "krab" and other indifferent seafood, and I thought the banh xeo suffered from the lack of veggies. The garlic noodles weren't anywhere near garlicky enough.

          Still, I'd go back for the meat dishes, not to mention the pleasant atmosphere. Considering the quality of the beef dishes, I think the pho would be worth a try, too.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler
            grayelf Oct 9, 2009 11:39 PM

            Not to hijack (okay, maybe a little), Ruth, but could you expound on why you felt this was the best version you've had of bo luc lac. I have access to very few versions and am hoping to try more in SF. The best I've had was at Bodega Bistro for reference.

            1. re: grayelf
              Ruth Lafler Oct 10, 2009 02:11 PM

              Even though we didn't order the fillet mignon option, the beef was very tender and juicy and the pieces were big enough that they weren't overcooked. It was just ... beefy (and I say this as someone who just got back from almost three weeks in Argentina, where beef is almost a religion).

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                Melanie Wong Oct 10, 2009 05:16 PM

                Actually we did spring for the filet mignon option. So worth noting to those who want to order this dish, it's listed in the Specialties area of the menu, and is not the lesser priced one (non-filet mignon) that comes with noodles.

                I thought it was a great version of shaking beef too. The seasoned salt was more, well, seasoned and I didn't detect any msg. I might have liked a bit more lime, but I thought the beef was quite tasty without it nevertheless. Filet mignon is often low on flavor, sacrificiing taste for tenderness, but this was handled quite well to bring out every bit.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  Ruth Lafler Oct 10, 2009 06:22 PM

                  Hmmm... I thought I heard you order "45" -- must have gotten confused.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Melanie Wong Oct 11, 2009 12:07 AM

                    You heard correctly. I did order #45, but then the filet mignon option was strongly recommended, and since we hadn't ordered that much, I went with the suggestion.

                2. re: Ruth Lafler
                  Xiao Yang Oct 11, 2009 10:07 PM

                  The tenderness and juiciness of the beef may have been pleasing to you, but it's far from authentic. As Charles Phan (The Slanted Door) described it to Mark Bittman in a 2004 interview,

                  ---------------------------------------------
                  In Vietnam, tender beef is hard to come by, so to make the meat easier to chew, cooks cut it into small bits (hence ''luc lac,'' echoing the sound of the knife hitting the cutting board). It is then cooked, Mr. Phan said, ''really, really well done -- crunchy, in fact.''

                  http://is.gd/4eUun

                  -------------------------------------------------

                  Actually sounds good to me.

                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                    grayelf Oct 13, 2009 12:08 PM

                    I'd read that too (maybe even the same article; I certainly cook a version of Chef Phan's version of shaking beef at home!) but I have yet to find any "crunchy" versions of bo luc lac... still looking. In the meantime, the filet mignon version is mighty fine.

                3. re: grayelf
                  otis Oct 10, 2009 05:07 PM

                  Lots of beef, very tender and perfectly cooked, in a juicy marinade with fried potato cubes that tasted like they had been exposed to the same marinade (nuoc man, what else?).

                  Also, I seem to eat with one hand on my wallet, and this generous dish was $9.95 vs $17.95 for the rib eye which to my taste was undistinguished. However, they brought the accompanying noodles after the ribeye which was a problem. The way to eat the beef would be to slice it up and mix in with the noodles and the gravy.

                  1. re: otis
                    Melanie Wong Oct 10, 2009 05:17 PM

                    The rib eye was described as grilled, but any charring got lost under the sauce. It was, however, tender enough to cut with a fork despite being cooked well done. I did like the saucing quite a bit and think I'll try to reproduce it at home.

                    1. re: otis
                      Eugene Park Oct 14, 2009 09:53 AM

                      Actually, the shaking beef/bo luc lac dish that we happily consumed was either $15.95 or $17.95. The original order was for the lunch portion ($9.95), but as MWong mentions above, we agreed to the upsell and were rewarded for doing so.

                      The ribeye tasted good and the texture was fine when it was hot, but the overcooking of it became a problem as the dish cooled. I cleaned up the last couple bites of it, and it was a bit too firm once the temperature dropped. It would be a very good dish IMO if they cooked it to a medium rare or medium AND kept the sauce on the side for dipping rather than smothering it.

                      I'd echo the comments of everyone else. Only thing I'd add is that the two versions of garlic noodles we tried weren't very commendable IMO. They were definitely a toned down version compared to what other restos produce. I make garlic noodles at home fairly frequently, so I know that it's not too difficult to make a tasty version of. These were disappointing.

                      But overall, it's a pleasant place to dine and definitely a nicer environment than the typical Tenderloin VN resto.......

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