Arkensen and Nanzaro both wanted Pho. Actually they wanted either pho or sushi. We ruled out sushi — Suanne and I just did not want sushi because we are beginning to get tired of the sushi that the boys wanted.
I think we had covered every single Vietnamese restaurant already in Richmond on chowtimes. There is a brand new Vietnamese restaurant … actually a restaurant under new management. Saigon City is located on the strip mall on Garden City and Blundell.
Truth be told. We did not place much hope on Saigon City being great. It has all the trappings of a small time neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant. But we did find a couple of surprises here.
Service was great and down to earth friendly. For a moment we were somewhat disappointed that they spoke to us in perfect Cantonese. It was later then Suanne pointed out to me that they were chatting away in Vietnamese between themselves. So … this was after all a real Vietnamese restaurant. LOL! Faith restored.
The restaurant was not really big but it was quite busy.
We asked them what their specialty is. Without hesitation, they said we must try their Deep Fried Chicken Wings. It was $4 for three wings which I thought was a wee bit expensive. The wings were really good. Not only was the taste good it looked good too. The batter was light and the skin was crisp. It was not particularly greasy. I remember it was really hot … of course, it just came right out from the deep fryer.
Suanne decided on something light. It was not on the menu but Suanne saw a an old sign (perhaps from the previous management’s menu) of the Green Papaya Salad Special ($5.50). They told us they don’t serve this anymore and after a while, the waitress asked us to wait while she goes to the back. She came back and told us yes … they will make it specially for us. Wow, we were impressed.
The Green Papaya Salad texture was a lot like semi cooked vermicelli. It has prawns and slices of pork and topped with crushed peanuts. It was great.
For me, I opted for the Seafood with Rice Noodle in Sour and Spicy Soup. Expecting this to be a kind of Vietnamese noodle, it turned out to be more like a Thai Tom Yum noodle soup. Not that it was a problem … it was just that I expected something else. This is loaded with squid, mussels, artificial crab and prawns. Not bad … $8.50.
Arkensen’s choice was their #1 item on the menu: the House Special Combination Beef in Rice Noodle Soup. In short, it’s Pho with everything in it. The large one is $8. I find this kind of flat — certainly it does not appear that this is their specialty.
We also ordered the Combination of Beans in Coconut Milk and Ice ($3.50). It was served in an odd shaped glass which makes it kind of difficult to mix everything up without making a mess. While it was sweet and tasted OK, don’t you find the colors a little off? I mean, it would be perfect if the red bean is redder and the green thingy is greener. LOL!
Nanzaro’s choice was the Grilled Lemon Grass Chicken with Steamed Rice ($8.25). It looked good. They told us that this is one of their chef’s specialty. I took a bite of the chicken — pretty good and very juicy. They served this with broken rice. Until today, I still do not understand the thing about broken rice … like is this more expensive or cheaper and why Vietnamese rice are traditionally made with broken rice.
We like Saigon City for their down to earth friendliness and that they do some of their dishes very well.