Restaurant Reviews

Side Dish: Saigon Cuisine

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 housemade 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.
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John Linn