Friday, February 18, 2011

Pho Saigon Restaurant – West St. Paul, MN

D.Rough and I are pretty loyal to our favorite Pho place on University, but we occasionally try out new places just to remind us we have found the best one. We’ve been driving by this small Vietnamese place at the end of a strip mall for a few months now and thought we’d just pop in and see what they had.

The inside is pretty traditional Chinese/Vietnamese décor, but the menu has quite a few things on it. Some Thai dishes, some soups some curries, Chinese (Cantonese and Szchuan), and Vietnamese. We knew we wanted Pho, but I will tell you, the lunch buffet looked really good. I will have to go back for the buffet soon.

We decided on lunch pretty quickly since we knew what we were in the mood for. D.Rough got the Pho with strips of beef in it, and a Thai Tea Latte with Pearls. I got hot and spicy beef with lop in it. I tried to figure out what lop was before the waitress came back, but she beat me. I ordered it anyway. How bad could it be? Was it a typo or misspelling? Besides, the waitress said the Pho I ordered was her favorite, so I assumed I’d do just fine. We also got an order of spring rolls as an appetizer.

The spring rolls came out. She had put them on separate plates, which was nice of her, and brought out some sauce to dip them in. The sauce wasn’t hoisin as we suspected it might be. It was more peanut-y than that and sweet. Still delicious, especially after a healthy dose of sri racha. The spring rolls themselves were some of the larger ones we’ve had. They were pretty substantial and they tasted pretty good. Better than average, I’d say.

The Pho and toppings for the Pho came out a short while later and looks great. D.Rough’s looked like traditional Pho with a clear broth and skinny noodles underneath all the goodies. She loaded it up with the cilantro and bean sprouts and lemons, as well as some sri racha and hoisin sauce. The meat was pretty good in her bowl - cut thin and not stringy at all. Very good bowl of Pho.

Mine had a much deeper red hue to the broth, so I had high hopes it would be spicy. It wasn’t, but it was a little spicier and had more “body” than the traditional broth. I also figured out what lop is. It’s some sort of processed sausage/bologna made of beef. It actually tasted pretty good, so I had no issues with it. The pieces of steak in my bowl were fantastic though. Very well cooked and very little fat. I think there were some other things in my bowl that I’m not used to eating, but seeing as I’ve never ordered tripe or tendon in anything, I couldn’t tell you which they were. I sampled a bit of it, but would have preferred to know what I was eating. Also, instead of skinny noodles, my Pho had large spaghetti-like noodles in it. They tasted just fine, but I had a hell of a time eating them with chop sticks. They just wouldn’t stay on the sticks and kept splashing me when they’d hit the bowl of broth. I’m not sure what the reasoning is for the friction-less noodles, but I’m sure it’s science-related. I’ll have to ask EJens about it, since he’s the braniac of our group.

Overall, this was really good Pho, but not the best, and certainly not going to take the place of our old stand-by. That being said, it’s 10 blocks from our house, so we’ll end up here occasionally and probably for the buffet. Soon.

1720 Robert St.
West St. Paul, MN 55118

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