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Taste of Saigon (Rockville): Feb 2014

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We were huge fans of Taste of Saigon for years. Then the original location - behind the firehouse - became shabby and run-down and we had a couple of meh meals. Then they closed. We didn't realize that they were going to re-open across the street. Meanwhile, we discovered Eden Center. When I learned that Taste of Saigon had re-opened, I decided to pay a visit.

So lunch yesterday was disappointing to say the least. The new location is very attractive. It was almost empty when I arrived at 1 p.m. - only two tables occupied. I waited for my friend and asked for the ginger lemon tea. They didn't have any. I agreed to accept jasmine tea instead. It arrived in an uninsulated metal pot and the tea was floating loose in the pot, which apparently had no filter so my choices were to let it settle and let the tea get cold or pour it full of tea leaves. My friend arrived and we ordered. I started with the vegetarian spring rolls. They were huge and without any seasoning or taste whatsoever. There was a dish of peanut sauce (per the menu and it did have crushed peanuts on top) but I don't like peanuts. I asked for a different sauce - hoisin, plum, sriracha - but they said they had no other sauce. Really? They have pho on the menu but no sriracha, no hoisin? I know some people don't add sauces to their pho, but many do, so I'd be surprised if they don't offer it with the pho. Plus other dishes on the menu have other sauces, including ginger sauce, sweet and sour, "Vietnamese" sauce whatever that is. Then the waiter informs me that the peanut sauce is not peanut sauce. He says it is oyster sauce and he will bring me another dish without the crushed peanuts. Which he does, and because I said I like spicy, there is a dot of hot sauce on the top. Good thing, as the sauce was nauseatingly sweet and also rather gluey. Then I ordered the scallop-shaped tofu in the famous Ma Tu sauce (black pepper sauce). Good lord. Maybe I remembered it wrong, maybe my tastes have changed, but this was absurdly sweet and without a hint of other flavors. As I've never like sweet, I doubt it was that my tastes have changed.

They do two-hour parking validation. Per the Rockville Town Center website, the merchants that validate parking will validate for Garages A, B, and C. I parked in Garage A. I gave them my ticket to validate. They said they don't validate for that garage, only for the garage behind the restaurant. So that added another $10 for my lousy two hour meal (which was that long only because of the very slow service).

Not going to give this one a second chance. Not with Eden Center and Minh's as far better options for Vietnamese food.

The service was painfully slow. With only four tables occupied, one waiter should have been plenty. They had two, but neither one of them checked on tables after serving the food. They just disappeared.

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