At Douzen’s suggestion, we all attempted to go eat at Miss Saigon after Nike Run group awhile back. Unfortunately, we trusted the new guy in town to lead the way, and Douzen kept insisting the restaurant was located on Market. So even though we had just run a brisk 5+ miles, instead of arriving at the corner of 6th and Mission, we ended up running all the way to 9th before giving up and realizing we were lost. I don’t think Douzen will live this one down for awhile, but I guess it was partly my fault for not knowing better than to follow the guy who just moved to the city…. from Japan. Hehe! Pdho and I were in the mood for some Vietnamese food on Friday evening. The restaurant is technically located in SOMA in an area which kind of transitions from being a little more gentrified to being the haven for homeless and druggies. The inside of the restaurant is pretty small, but it’s seems surprisingly clean and well-maintained considering the surrounding location.
It’s hard to go wrong with Vietnamese Spring Rolls in large part because nothing is really cooked, but in my experience the keys to success with this appetizer is the quality of the ingredients and the taste of the dipping sauce. The rolls were quite hefty looking, but one bite revealed a filling full of veggies and rice noodles. There were two thin pieces of steamed pork and one thin half of a shrimp, and although these rolls tend to be more about the vegetables than the protein, it just didn’t feel like enough meat for me. I couldn’t taste any mints or herbs which are typically wrapped in the roll as well, but that was fine with me since I usually pick them out if there are too many. The roll was decent, but I think the peanut-based sauce really helped make the roll more enjoyable to eat.
Fried Tofu with Green Onions is one of my absolute favorite dishes that I really don’t see too often on Vietnamese restaurant menus. I wonder if it’s just more of a home-cooked kind of dish. Anyways, I was quite excited to try it. Although the tofu was fresh out of the fryer with a crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside texture, the fish sauce was little bit too sweet for my liking. It was weird, because the fish sauce is supposed to be salty. This distinct sweetness in the fish sauce hinted to me that maybe the cuisine here slanted more toward Southern Vietnam. In spite of the fish sauce, I still liked the mix of tofu and green onions.
I was a little concerned about ordering pho, but Pdho was really craving some hot soup especially with it being so cold and windy today. At $8, the price is a little high, but surprisingly enough, they give you quite a big bowl filled with lots of noodles, beef and some pretty rich and flavorful broth. It wasn’t the best tasting pho I’ve had, but it’s definitely on the higher end of the spectrum of other bowls of pho I’ve tried in the Bay Area. It has some good beef flavor.
At $17.95, this dish was a little bit on the expensive side, but overall it tasted pretty good. The Tiger prawns were coated in a salt, pepper, and garlic seasoned batter. I wasn’t completely sure, but I detected a slight bit of sweetness in the shrimp. It wasn’t as offensive as the fish sauce from the tofu dish, but it did seem to support my beliefs in the origins of the chef’s cuisine. The garlic noodles weren’t as flavorful as Thanh Long/Crustaceans, but the noodles had a firmer texture which I did prefer. All in, I thought this was quite successful.
I was pretty pleased with the food, and although it wasn’t the best Vietnamese food I’ve had, it wasn’t too offensive or disappointing which tends to be the theme with most Vietnamese food I’ve had in the Bay Area. I would definitely consider coming back whenever I’m craving for Vietnamese food.
I’m not sure if it’s because my palate is not accustomed to the flavor profiles favored by the majority of Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area, but I just don’t seem very impressed by the food up here, even what I’ve eaten in San Jose. It’s not bad. It’s just not that good. So I sometimes feel that because my tolerance for mediocre Vietnamese food is quite low (especially in comparison to other cuisines), I feel like I may not give Vietnamese restaurants a fair shake. I do feel bad about it sometimes, but it’s kind of hard when you grow up eating food prepared a certain way, you can’t help but be somewhat “trained” to only eat it that way. I wonder if everyone else feels that way about their native cuisine.
100 6th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
PAFO Ratings for Miss Saigon:
Price 2½ stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars