Saigon christens new digs with grand opening


Hopefully it was was because it was a) jampacked and b) busy celebrating its grand opening at its new University Ave. location (not to be confused with its old University Ave. location), but my first experience at the new Saigon digs fell a bit flat.

The new restaurant is bigger, airier and cleaner than the old, all definite plusses. It is comprised of three rooms, sort of shotgun style, the first occupied by the takeout counter and register, the other two for dining.

My friends and I were seated near the front, in one of the tables closest to the door, and even a plate of freebie chicken wings for the grand opening wasn't enough to distract from the icy blasts assaulting us every time someone opened the door. We had to move.

The vegetarian spring rolls we ordered came with a surprising lack of fillings: only rice and greens. The pork spring rolls just added meat to these two ingredients. No carrots, sprouts or other herbs to speak of. We hoped maybe they had just run out of the rest.

The "specialty" pho I got was also short on substance. Where's the beef? I wondered. My friends were equally nonplussed by their shrimp and won ton pho. Fortunately, another friend's banh mi (the "special sandwich") was completely on par: tasty meat, crunchy, fresh veggies and toothsome bread. Whew.

We waited in an incomprensibly long and slow line to pay on our way out, leavened only because we scored another grand opening perk, a free banh mi, on the way out the door. A stack of them, wrapped snugly in white butcher paper, waited next to the register.

Maybe that's where all our missing spring roll veggies were.