Nine times out of ten, if I asked Warren what he wants to eat for dinner, he will say, "Pho?" We've been to pretty much all of the Midtown Vietnamese places and tend to go through spurts. Like we had a Saigon Le phase, Pho Vietnam phase, and most recently a Shanghai phase. (Had Vietnamese Bistro not burned down, I'm sure we would have never left that phase!) About a month ago, just Warren and I were headed to see a friend's band on the Highland Strip and decided to stop at Pho Saigon on the way. We hadn't been there in ages, for no particular reason. They had an table topper promoting their bahn mi sandwiches, and we decided to get one to share. I typically don't like bahn mi, but theirs is SO good. They add barbequed pork and it makes all of the difference.
Since then, I have been getting them to go on a regular basis! (Just an FYI--they make you pay cash to get them to go--$3.99 each.)
A couple of Sundays ago we decided to take the monkeys (Satchel 9, and Jiro 7) for an early dinner before going downtown to see the San Jose Taiko drummers. Most Vietnamese places are closed on Sunday, so that is another plus for Pho Saigon. (Pho Vietnam is also open on Sunday.)
The monkeys don't get too stoked about Vietnamese food. They definitely prefer to bankrupt us at sushi restaurants. However, when I mentioned that Pho Saigon had bubble tea, they both perked up.
We ordered them each a bubble tea, iced coffee for ourselves, two bahn mi, a noodle bowl to share, rice, and an order of chicken wings. Since we'd worked the kids in the yard all day, we let them play their DSes at the table.
First out was the iced coffee. Do you notice anything wrong with this picture?
I stared at the glass for a few moments, and then commenced complaining to Warren. "Uh, wtf. Where is the rest of it?" I said. "I think the ice is supposed to melt," he replied, hopefully. "It's cold. It's not going to melt anytime soon," I grumpily retorted.
Now, I have a thing about Pho Saigon's pricing structure. Pretty much all of their drinks--coffees, bubble teas, soda water with a squeeze of lemon, all cost $3.50-$4. Considering the bahn mi costs $4, I think the drinks are a bit of a rip off. A $3.50 bubble tea makes sense, but a $4 draft soda water? A $4 half cup of coffee? No.
I told our waitress that I wasn't paying $4 for half a glass of coffee. She looked scared and went to get the owner. The owner lady came over and I tried not to sound too bitchy when I explained that the iced coffee was not what I expected. She was pretty cool about it, apologized, and said the girl who made it was new. Then she came out with a nice, full glass of iced coffee.
Let me say that while it tastes great, it is very concentrated. I definitely regretted my decision to have one at dinner (on a Sunday) when I was lying awake in bed at 2am.
The rest of our meal went off without a hitch. The bubble tea servings are very generous. Jiro got coconut.
Satchel got pineapple. His even had a little scoop of pineapple ice cream on top.
The bahn mi was yummy as always. I still have not managed to get either monkey to try it. I'm pretty sure Satchel would like a modified version since he loves pork, baguettes, and sour things.
Jiro snarfed down most of the chicken wings and a little rice. (He refused to take a serious picture.)
With the bahn mi appetizer, the combo noodle bowl was actually big enough for Warren, Satchel, and I to share. It's also an easy thing to deconstruct for picky eaters.
I don't know that the food at Pho Saigon is any better than the other Vietnamese restaurants that we frequent, but it is at least just as good. As I said, the bahn mi is exceptional, and I think the bubble tea is a bit better too. The service is fast and friendly-enough. I'd put the family that owns it in the same category as the Saigon Le folks--slow to warm up. If you come in all of the time I think they will eventually start to trust you and show some sweetness. If you want all sweetness all the time (and a Thai menu to boot), then Shanghai is your place.
I have yet to make it to the restrooms at Pho Saigon. I'd guess there isn't a changing table, but I'd say in general they are welcoming to children. That's pretty much a given at Asian restaurants.
Our total was over $40, but when you take into consideration that $16 of it was on drinks, then it isn't so bad. Or maybe it's worse! I don't care if you get a drink, but you have to try the bahn mi!
Also, beware, they sell Mentos for $1 at the register.