Saigon Grille is the newest addition to what might be called “[very]Little Vietnam” on the corner of Superior and East 31st. It’s within shouting distance of both Superior Phở and #1 Phở, but has some enjoyable elements that distinguish it from the other two restaurants.
Parking is a bit confusing at first in that there doesn’t seem to be any. There’s a full lot around back, though, and a sign on E. 31st directing you to the lot. Once you park, you’re only a few feet from the restaurant.
The establishment is tastefully decorated with a deep red motif. The staff gave Sarah and me a friendly greeting when we arrived for lunch and seated us near the window.
Other reviews have noted Saigon Grille’s long list of authentic non-alcoholic drinks, so I quickly looked at that section of the menu and ordered the salty plum drink. Sarah ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk. We were blown away by both. The plum drink was sweet, sour, and just a tad salty, and very refreshing on a hot day. The iced coffee was very dark but also creamy and so intensely flavored that it reminded us of bittersweet chocolate.
We started our meal with the spring rolls, which were filled with densely packed greens, crunchy carrots, vermicelli noodles, whole shrimp and shredded pork. They’re served with vinegary peanut dipping sauce. These were light, flavorful and satisfying.
I had the bahn mi for my entrée. I first discovered bahn mi at Superior Phở and order it every time I’m there. This one might even be better though. The waitress told us that “everything is homemade”: the bun, the pork, etc. The bun is crisp and buttery (though that flavor might come from the mayo) and the pork has a nice grilled flavor. Fresh Thai basil and cilantro add a sharp counterpoint. They skip the traditional pâté, but I didn’t really miss it especially as the pork is so generously portioned. The fresh homemade roll also really added to the sandwich. This went down really easily, and the $2.95 price can’t be beat.
Sarah ordered the grilled chicken with broken rice, which was around $8. The chicken had a rich, meaty almost smoky flavor (they were thighs), and the vegetables were very fresh. The tomatoes were sweet and summer seasonal, and having fresh salad made for a very balanced plate. I helped Sarah out with the dish, but we were happy to still have some left over.
Two sweet and sour kiwi (or melon?) candies came with the check. Their unusual but tasty flavor fit well with everything else we had.
Saigon Grille is a great addition to the neighborhood, and we look forward to returning in cooler weather to try the phở.