Little Saigon Cafe, SF Tenderloin report w/ pics
CASH ONLY (not sure when they'll get a credit card machine). I wanted to grab a quick Vietnamese sandwich but Saigon Sandwich & Baguette Express were closed. I remembered Little Saigon Cafe had a steam table with ready made pot stickers and thought I could grab some of those.
Walked into the tiny cafe and noticed they've changed the format. It's no longer got ready-made steam table food, everything is made fresh to order.
I asked the Caucasian guy what's his favorite sandwich and he said the Grilled Pork banh mi $2.75 is good, so I got that. I also got a Vietnamese iced coffee w/ condensed milk $2.25. My total was $5.48, CASH ONLY for now. He also recommended the Special Combination $3.25. Will try next time.
The sandwich was tiny, I wish it was bigger but the flavors were good. Nice toasted baguette, tender juicy pork, I think a bit of pate, pickled veggies, & I said add jalapenos.
Other stuff they got:
Spring rolls 3 for $3.75
green onion pan cake $2 - will try next time
lamb skewers $2 - will try next time
chives & pork pot sticker (6) $3.99 - will try next time
cabbage & pork pot sticker (6) $3.99
vegetarian pot stickers (6) $3.99
Noodle soup $5.75-7.25
rice plates $5.75-6.75
They have14 chairs & 5 two-top tables so a really tiny cafe.
Little Saigon Cafe
670 Larkin St
I went here tonight based on the write-up in the SF-Weekly.
We ordered the pork and cabbage dumplings, pork and chive dumplings, 2 lamb skewers and a bbq pork fried rice.
The pork and cabbage dumplings were by far the star item.
First, the lamb skewers are $2 for each skewer, which is about an ounce of meat. My girlfriend liked them just fine, but i did not. Fairly dry, and more spicy than cuminy.
Then again, I became very spoiled by lamb skewers at a good xinjian style restaurant in hong kong, and in mainland china, where the lamb is fattier, and grilled on open flames to give it that crackle.
The fried rice was not my idea. It was oddly burnt, giving it a unique and not necessarily unpleasant flavor. Adding the vinegar sauce and sweet chili sauce for the dumpling made it tastier for me.
Now the important part is the dumplings. The pork and cabbage dumpling was phenomenal. They are uniquely doughey but still light. The dough itself has a really good flavor, and the filling was delicious. I loved these so much that despite being relatively full i ordered another set, the pork and chive. I still liked the pork and chive, but the filling for the pork and cabbage had some different spice to it that made it really stand out. They also came with different dipping sauce. the first with a vinegar based one, and the second was maybe soy with sesame something... not sure. For some reason one of the 6 pork and cabbage dumplings ended up being the 'vegetarian' dumpling. which seemed to be carrots and mushrooms. That seemed good, and also uniquely flavored... but i was taken aback by this outlier.
A woman next to us got the bun bo hue. it at least looked like a good version.... and had a wide variety of ingredients... no skimping on blood cubes, for example.
The dumplings are really filling. 6 was almost enough to be the whole meal.
They seem like good folks too.