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Saigon Cafe in Stamford

c
chipmonger Oct 12, 2012 12:25 PM

Looks like it just opened on Atlantic St., next to scottrade; I think there was some kind of soup and sandwich place there before. A quick look at the menu through the window indicates presence of Banh Mi!

Also soup and noodles, which I presume would be Pho, but seems more like a grab and go place with not much seating, so not sure how that would work. Since Garangal and Plateau both closed, SE Asian has been missing from downtown....can't wait to give it a try but it may be a few days before I have the opportunity!

  1. c
    chipmonger Oct 17, 2012 01:57 PM

    OK, finally got here to try the Banh Mi. I've only had this type of Vietnamese sandwhich maybe only once or twice before so I'm not an expert.

    But what I had (the traditional pork sandwich) was very good. Bread was fresh and crusty while the meats were tasty. One of the the cold cuts tastes like pâté. Vegetables, including the cilantro herbs, were fresh too.

    There are only 4 small tables for seating. But if not crowded, might be nice to sit down and try the Pho.

    1. l
      LorenV Oct 18, 2012 04:47 AM

      Awesome!

      There's a menu, photo and coupons for 50% off Banh Mi at their FB page.

      http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?se...

      Coupons are good all October.

      Pho looks pho-cking good!

      11 Replies
      1. re: LorenV
        cardiak Oct 18, 2012 12:49 PM

        Wow. I'm so excited to have Pho nearby.

        I'm going to hit this place up at my earliest convenience and finally get my Pho fix. I will definitely try the Bahn Mi as well!

        Hurray for Vietnamese closer than friggin Bridgeport!

        1. re: cardiak
          s
          SteveSCT Oct 18, 2012 01:20 PM

          Yes, this is definitely an under-represented cuisine in lower Fairfield County. I look forward to trying this place.

          1. re: SteveSCT
            p
            plien69 Oct 22, 2012 11:18 AM

            Stopped in at lunch today to try the pho. My impressions:

            As mentioned, it's more of a deli-like storefront with about 4-6 2-top tables. I ordered at the register, paid, then took a seat at a table. The usual condiments (basil, sprouts, lime, sliced hot peppers, hoisin, Sriracha) were immediately brought to the table. About 3-4 minutes later, a steaming bowl of pho arrived.

            Light, fragrant broth. Not as much body to the flavor as I hoped, but pleasant.
            Good amount of chopped cilantro and scallions in the broth. Also a little bit of slivered white onion.
            There is only one pho offering, and it has both medium-rare beef and slices of well-done roast beef (round?)
            Noodles are wider than the usual pho noodles I've seen: between linguine and fettuccine in width. Picks up less broth per slurp. :)
            $7.50 for a bowl that would be equal to a small at other pho places.

            Overall, I'd say it's a step below Pho Saigon in Bridgeport, but decent pho in an area where there previously was none.

            Staff was very pleasant, and spoke flawless English with very little to no accent.

            1. re: plien69
              cardiak Nov 15, 2012 09:39 AM

              Has anyone else been here?

              I'm 0/2 in my attempts to stop by Saigon Cafe after work.

              The first attempt was devastating; met a friend there around 6:45pm, and there was one guy working there, furiously trying to get a take out order for the guy in front of us.

              After waiting for a solid 20 minutes, 90% of which, the guy was back in the kitchen, he finished up the 2 bahn mei and pho for the guy in front of us and asked us what we wanted, whereon he said he was sorry but that guy had gotten the last serving of pho, and all that was left was the really salty stuff at the bottom of the barrel.

              I appreciated the honesty and his desire to not serve subpar food, but needless to say, it was very disappointing; the long wait definitely exacerbated the problem.

              The next time I went by, it was a little after 7pm and they were closed already.

              It sounds like I'm the only one that has had bad luck so far; I guess I'll try and get back during the day sometime.

              I *really* want this place to be good and do well; having pho be a 10min drive for me instead of a 45min drive is huge!

              1. re: cardiak
                c
                chipmonger Nov 16, 2012 12:21 PM

                When they first opened I thought I saw hours posted for lunch only. That sign is now gone (no hours posted anywhere) and I'm surprised you were able to get in your first time after work.

                Sounds like they are still ambivalent about whether to open for supper or not.

                They serve Pho but do not go deep, i.e. with all the variations in toppings or cuts of beef that you find in places that specialize. I still have not tried here for that reason, but have been back for the Banh Mi several times and have always been pleased.

                1. re: chipmonger
                  cardiak Nov 19, 2012 11:35 AM

                  Thanks for the update chip; I'll try to make it down there on a weekend afternoon or on a day off.

                  I can deal with the Pho not having the tendon and the tripe and all that in it; when I get Pho I usually get the "special" that has everything in it just because there's rarely an option that has the brisket, the rare beef, and the meatballs, which are my favorites.

                  1. re: cardiak
                    cardiak Nov 21, 2012 06:39 PM

                    I was able to get out of work early today and I ran over to Saigon Cafe.

                    Got a Bahn Mi and the Pho, and was very pleased. The third time was the charm; and it just looks like this is a lunch spot, but I will definitely be back.

                    The guy working out front was very friendly and was happy to chat and recommend items to another guy in there that didn't know much about Vietnamese food.

                    The Pho did not have the meatballs, it only had the rare beef and the well-done brisket, but that is really my only complaint.

                    I got it to-go, and I was impressed with their care in packing up the Pho.

                    You get a container of broth, another container with the noodles, onions, and beef, then another container with the sprouts, basil, and lime.

                    Traffic was crazy so when I got home I heated up the broth until it was just about boiling, then poured it over, squirted some sriracha in there, and enjoyed.

                    It really hit the spot, and it sure as hell beat going all the way to Bridgeport (which is a 45min drive for me).

                    1. re: cardiak
                      cardiak Dec 10, 2012 12:15 PM

                      Went back to Saigon Cafe over the weekend to get my pho fix, and I was very happy to see in my container of broth, a holiday miracle... a pair of the meatballs! This was my only beef (no pun intended) from my last trip.

                      I dunno what they're made out of, they have that strange rubbery texture, but I love them!

                      So happy this place is here.

                      1. re: cardiak
                        c
                        chervil9 Dec 11, 2012 05:52 AM

                        The meatballs the Vietnamese prefer are very finely ground in a food processor(or traditionally a mortar) to create a firm, yes rubbery texture. I love them too, very flavorful, tight and with a pleasant chewiness. Same with the fish balls and cakes.

                        1. re: chervil9
                          cardiak May 20, 2013 01:42 PM

                          Just wanted to give a "6 Months Later" review on Cafe Saigon.

                          It's still standing, which I'm super pleased about. They've altered their hours, they're now only open for lunch on Mon-Thu, but now they are open Sundays, which they weren't before.

                          The youngish guy who runs the front of house is really friendly; he chats up customers and helps people who aren't really familiar with Vietnamese food to make their choices.

                          Their pho continues to be tasty. It may not be the best I've ever had, (especially after eating pho out in CA a few times) but for someone living in SW CT, it's fantastic to not have to drive to Bridgeport (to a frankly slightly sketchy spot in Pho Saigon) to get my pho on.

                          Here's to hoping they stick around for a long time; if you're in the area and you're in the mood, it scratches the itch.

                          That might sound like a cheesy endorsement, but I'm really hoping people continue to go there; I'll be devastated if I drive over there to get pho one day and they've closed up shop. :P

                          1. re: cardiak
                            c
                            chipmonger May 21, 2013 07:36 AM

                            I agree with your assessment and sentiments, good to have options in downtown Stamford. I still return here, if irregularly.

                            If you are in the area, better Pho can be had in Danbury at Pho Vietnam.

      2. p
        pixellle Dec 6, 2013 09:00 AM

        Saigon Cafe is closed, replaced by "The First Kitchen." Similar menu, so I hoped it was just the same folks, new name. Unfortunately, although I got very good banh mi at Saigon Cafe, this place is passing off very mediocre attempts. I've tried it twice, but no improvement.

        Specifically, the bread is terrible -- generic squishy bread that kinda looks like a baguette but has no crust or texture. The sauce is absent, and I even saw some mayonaise! Also, gone are the great and essential pickled vegetables, replaced by some sad carrot shavings. All that's left is a sort of pretend-banh mi good enough for people who don't know what one is and aren't terribly picky.

        So, so sorry to have lost our Stamford banh mi place!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: pixellle
          cardiak Dec 13, 2013 11:48 AM

          Thanks for the update; I haven't gotten the chance to get my Pho fix in a while and didn't know they changed hands. New website seems to say they still have Pho; so maybe they kept some of the staff.

          http://www.ctfirstkitchen.com/menu.html

          They also seem to be open till 10pm every night now; which would be nice for me to be able to pick up food on the way home from work, which I couldn't do before at Saigon Cafe.

          Maybe this is my wake-up call to be sure I frequent these places more often; because if I have to drive to Bridgeport for Pho again, even if it's better, I'll be sad.

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