My wife and I have tried to broaden our culinary horizons over the past few months and Vietnamese food has come into the rotation of regular places we like to try. A place that is about a five minute drive from our house in Davenport is a small place on 53rd Ave. by the name of Saigon Bistro. On a recent cool and wet evening when neither of us wanted to cook at home, we went to Saigon Bistro. (see map)
Generally, I'm able to easily find information on restaurants on the Internet - who owns them, history of the restaurant, etc. But I couldn't find anything on the background of Saigon Bistro, other than they opened quietly in 2011. Even local business web sites didn't list who the owner was. So, going into our first visit to Saigon Bistro a few weeks before this particular visit, we didn't know much about the place.
It turns out that their specialty is pho (pronounced "fuh"), the flavorful rice noodle broth Vietnamese soup that you can add beef strips, meatballs, chicken or seafood to and make it a full meal. They have a number of pho dishes on the menu at Saigon Bistro, as well as vermicelli - rice noodles with shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, mint leaves, and bean sprouts with either meat or seafood added - kabobs, grilled flank steak, and a number of rice plates with meat, vegetables or seafood that can be added. They also have bento box meals and banh mi sandwiches on the menu at Saigon Bistro.
Saigon Bistro is not that big of a place. It's situated in the corner of a strip mall along 53rd Ave. and seats about 40 people. We took a table along a short wall that sort of separates two small dining areas in the restaurant.
I was sort of leaning toward getting the beef pho combo, but the pork vermicelli was looking pretty interesting, as well. The pork egg noodle soup also sounded pretty good for a cool and misty evening. And I thought about getting the beef with broccoli rice dish, but I usually like getting that at our favorite little Thai restaurant down the way from Saigon Bistro, Tantra Thai Bistro.
Cindy wanted to try the spring rolls as an appetizer. They featured steamed shrimp and steamed pork with vermicelli lettuce, bean sprouts and mint leaves wrapped in rice paper. They were served with a soy sauce with some other stuff mixed in. Didn't quite know what was in there, but it tasted good with the spring rolls. The rolls were very good - there were lots of different flavors going on, but they all tasted good together.
She got the Vermicelli with scallops for her dinner. It featured a large bowl of a mixture of chopped veggies and rice noodles with medium sized scallops. She declared it to be very good. And there was a lot of it in her bowl, so much that she couldn't finish it all.
I got the beef combo pho with both the meatballs and the thin beef brisket slices. The brisket slices were well done - as described on the menu - and they were a little tough to chew. The meatballs were good sized and there were plenty of them in the pho. And they tasted pretty darned good. The broth was a little underwhelming compared to other pho's I've had, which - admittedly - hasn't been a lot. But there was a side of Hoisin sauce that was delivered with the pho, so I used that to help with the overall flavor. The one thing about it is that this was a large bowl of food for just $8.99, a great value from this small little Vietnamese restaurant.
We've now been to Saigon Bistro three or four times and while we're far from being Vietnamese food experts, the food is always good and flavorful. And the amount of food we get versus the price is a great value. The service we've had at Saigon Bistro has always been prompt and courteous, and they've always been accommodating to small requests. While it's not fine dining, it's still a nice comfortable place to eat.