By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
1392 N. State Road 7, Margate. Call 954-975-2426.
Saigon Cuisine has come a long way from its roots as a humble deli. No, not the knish and bagel kind. The kind that turns out banh mi: Vietnam's take on the submarine sandwich that shoehorns a fluffy baguette full of roasted pork, pâté, pickled vegetables, and spicy jalapeños. These days, owner Young Le's place operates as a full-service restaurant, sporting a menu of more than 150 authentic dishes, from pho with tripe and tendon to pan-fried Hanoi fish with dill to cauldron-sized hot pots of pork broth, shrimp, and sliced steak. There's a large dining room painted purple and gold with a well-equipped stage that hosts music from the homeland as a diverse crowd looks on. It's a great spot to share a family-sized meal, but you can still treat it like a deli if you choose: Pop in midday for a six-inch banh mi larded with house-made cold cuts and a healthful mix of carrot, daikon, and cucumber, at only four bucks a go. Then gulp down a creamy/tart soursop smoothie studded with gummy tapioca balls you suck through a fat red straw.
2925 NE 6th Ave.
Wilton Manors, FL 33334
Region: Oakland Park
4285 N. State Road 7, Lauderdale Lakes. Call 954-486-8885.
It's a common lament. "Where is the authentic Chinese food in South Florida?" There is life beyond egg rolls and sweet-and-sour chicken. Silver Pond might as well be in New York's Chinatown — or a town in China. Note the tanks of live lobsters, crabs, and eels waiting for their turn in the pot as you sit. The restaurant has two menus — green and the more adventurous white menu. Choose white and prepare for an adventure in eating. Steamed lobsters, sea cucumbers, and bird's-nest soup are options, as is the classic Peking duck. There's something for everyone at Silver Pond — even egg rolls.
7100 Fairway Drive, Palm Beach Gardens. Call 561-691-5662.
Chef Charlie Soo's restaurant isn't cheap, but the flavors are worth the expense. Traditional pad Thais and curries mingle with elegant Talay sea bass and Masaman duck dishes. Talay Thai is a family affair, so expect to see chef Charlie in the kitchen, Mama Soo working the hostess stand, and other family members asking how your meal was. Good service and an understanding of the dozens of intricate spices and ingredients it takes to nail the flavors of Thai food is what makes Talay Thai worth the price... and the drive.
Woodlands Vegetarian Indian Restaurant
4816 N. University Drive, Sunrise. Call 954-749-3221.
This quaint strip-mall eatery out west serves regional South Indian cuisine with a flair for curries and chutneys and an assortment of starches with which to sop it all up. And it's all vegetarian. Yup, no meat whatsoever. There's vada, fried lentil doughnuts dipped in sambar or rasam; bonda dumplings made of lentil or potato; uthappam pancakes topped with chilies and potatoes; and massive dosai — rolled-up crepes larger than your forearm and stuffed with all sorts of delicious veggies. All this is to say nothing of an excellent range of curries and pullavs — fragrant and liberally spiced — and freshly made flatbreads like naan and paratha. Best of all, no single dish on the menu will set you back more than $8.