I wasn’t really impressed with my bowl of pho at Pho Saigon. The broth wasn’t very flavorful and meat itself wasn’t too flavorful either. I had to add a ton of red pepper, hoisin, sriracha, and even salt and pepper. That’s never a good sign. The noodles weren’t even boiled before being added to the bowl because they were clumped together at the bottom of the bowl. That’s the sign of a lazy kitchen in my opinion. I was really disappointed with the quality of the meat and the flavor of the broth. My friend ordered a vermicelli bowl and it looked great. I forgot to ask him if he liked it, but the presentation was pretty strong. Overall, Pho Saigon needs work on the food aspect of their restaurant.
As mentioned in the Goods and Bads above, the booth was very unclean. The wall that I sat next to looked like it hadn’t been wiped down ever. There were multiple dried noodles that someone likely flicked on there and the waitstaff just didn’t bother to clean up. There were small holes in the wall and what looked like pencil markings as well. The booth was cramped and not bolted down. So, me being a bigger guy, whenever I went to get out of the seat, I pushed and managed to push the entire booth seat with two women sitting behind me. Cause and effect, I scared the hell out of them because their seat randomly jumped about a foot. The decor was halfway vietnamese inspired, but just felt lazy. I felt like I was at a half-assed oriental birthday party. And the worst part of all, there was no music at all. This usually wouldn’t be so bad if there was a mess of people talking and eating or if the kitchen was making noise. Neither was the case. You could hear a pin drop in that place. It wasn’t a comfortable situation.
This might seem like it would be a redeeming aspect of the experience, but you’d be wrong. The food might not have been the best food in the world, but it certainly came out quickly. That might be because they just threw the noodles into the broth instead of boiling to separate them, thus saving time, but that’s no excuse. I’d rather my food be made properly and come out a little later, than lazily and coming out quickly. It might seem strange to mark off points for food coming out too fast, but trust me when I say it can make a difference. Too fast means it was either pre-prepared or lazily put together. Too slow means they’re not prepared at all and don’t know how to manage the kitchen correctly. Think Goldilocks. The porridge needs to be just right.
Happily, this was an awesome part of the experience. The server was fantastic. She was friendly, kept our drinks full, and always kept a good eye on us. She even answered a couple of questions that I had. I really have nothing bad to say about the server. She earned a great tip. I think she’d do better at a busier restaurant, but that’s completely speculative.
Whenever I eat at a restaurant, I do my best to not be overly critical. I just don’t feel it’s needed to try to find issues. I just try to let them be noticed naturally. Sadly, Pho Saigon had a fair bit of issues that were hard to avoid. If I was getting paid for this, I might be a little overly critical, but I’m not. Therefore, if I’m spending my own money, it’s probably best to just try to make the best of it. I had a hard time doing that here. If I could give any advice to them, it’s to pack the broth with flavor, clean the place up, and maybe think of getting a face lift. One man’s opinion.