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August 18, 2009

Best Bites: Saigon Bistro

Now that my affection for the latest Vietnamese addition has made it into the Boston Globe, I feel the need to share why I love Saigon Bistro so. 

Summer 2009 130 My favorite starter is the off-menu ginger chicken dumplings. The steamed pockets are fine on their own, but the powerfully gingery dipping sauce is an addictive revelation.

There are seven varieties of pho on the menu, but you won't find dishes like those listed under "Classic Noodle Soups" anywhere else. I recommend the Mi Vit Tiem. Though the dish is described as stew, it is composed of crispy duck, rice noodles and veggies floating in a pho-like broth and accompanied by the usual mix-ins of lime, bean sprouts and basil. Despite the abundance of big flavors, the dominant (and most delicious) is the caramelized garlic, which floats throughout the cinnamon-flecked potage.

I am an absolute sucker for bun – rice noodles with fresh veggies and meat – and Saigon Bistro's is the best I've had. I order the peanut-topped delight with red pork that's reminiscent of cha siu, without the sometimes-cloying sweetness. Every bite is a burst of spring, exploding with fresh mint, cucumbers and carrots.

Summer 2009 129 Wash it all down with a coconut. That's right, a hollowed-out coconut comes to your table with straws in it. The sweet water within is a novelty, but it's not as unique as the salty limeade — as much a zesty pickle brine as a sweet sip. And yes, that is a recommendation. In fact, no matter how exotic a dish sounds, at Saigon Bistro, it's all approachable, and delicious. Just go for it.

This description of Saigon Bistro's offerings makes my mouth water. How could I possibly have dined there and missed these? At least I'll go armed next time and prepared... with an appetite. Need a research assistant??

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