Saigon Restaurant – San Diego

July 20, 2007
Cuisine: Vietnamese

4455 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92115

Phone: 619-284-4215
Website: none

Appetizer: Bò Bía – stir fried jimica and carrots, Chinese sausage, shredded scrambled eggs, all wrapped in a rice paper roll and dipped into a peanut sauce ($3.50)

Banh Tam Bi – rice noodles with shredded pork, vegetable, & coconut milk ($6.75)

Bò 7 Món – Seven Courses of Beef

Course I: Bo Nuong Vi – lemon grass and sesame marinated beef cooked on a hot plate with butter

Course II: Bò Nhúng Dấm / Beef Fondue – slices of Tenderloin fondue at your table in a simmering vinegar sauce

Course III: Bo Cha Dum – steamed Beef Meat Balls
Course IV: Bo La Nho – beef wrapped in grape leaves
Course V: Bo Moi Chai – grilled Beef Sausages
Course VI: Bo La Lot – beef Wrapped in Wild Betel Leaf

Course VII: Chao Bo / Beef Rice Soup – a rich flavorful beef rice soup

During my last weekend in America, my brother and his main squeeze came to San Diego for a brief visit. On his first evening in America’s Finest City, he was aching for some beef—seven whole courses of it. My family usually goes to Anh Hong Pho Pasteur in Clairemont for bò 7 món, but Cousin Phil suggested we try Saigon Restaurant due to a favorable review from his dad. Unfortunately, his dad forgot to mention that service was terrible at this restaurant. I guess we’ll just have to stick with our old stand by Anh Hong from here on out for good eats and prompt service.

While my dining companions enjoyed bò 7 món ($16.99—for two), I decided to order bo bia and banh tam bi instead. Seven courses of beef is six courses too many for a vegetarian-leaning, sprout-loving gal like me. The bo bia, like most of the food at Saigon Restaurant, were huge; perhaps twice the size of average spring rolls. I’m usually against super-sizing, but I may make an exception for Vietnamese treats. The extra-fatty rolls were stuffed with an abundance of carrots and jicama. Sadly, the disproportionate amount of vegetables to protein over powered the Chinese sausage and scrambled egg.

For my main entrée, I wanted to try a new dish. My mom suggested banh tam bi. Banh tam bi is reminiscent of classic vermicelli noodle dishes (bun), but with an unexpected sweetness. The coconut milk sauce in combination with nouc mam is what makes this offering extra special. I really enjoyed this selection and will be on the look out for it in Vietnam.

Even though I don’t like all seven courses of beef, there are a few that I am awfully fond of. The bo la nho is nutty and delicious and the final soup brings back fond memories of nursing childhood colds with a bowl of hot porridge.

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