Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pho Saigon

Not all pho is created equal. Pho Saigon at Arapahoe and Dayton in Englewood is not to be confused with the Pho Saigon in Englewood at Quebec, or the Pho Saigon in Aurora, or any of the other pho spots in Denver. This Pho Saigon is special.

After our first visit a couple years ago, we knew we'd stumbled on a gem. We've been many times since then, and we've never been disappointed.

Pho Saigon is located along a very busy stretch of Arapahoe Road in Englewood, in a little strip mall alongside several other restaurants. The interior is simple and modest, suited to a factory that cranks out happy Vietnamese food consumers. Despite the unassuming location, Pho Saigon is no secret among nearby office workers at lunch time. Be prepared for a line out the door if you arrive after 11:30 during the work week.

The staff is friendly and very, very efficient. You won't sit long before receiving water, having your order taken, and seeing your delicious plates (or bowls) of food in front of you.

Every time we go, we get the same things:

For a starter, the shrimp and pork spring rolls.
Shrimp and Pork Spring Rolls

The spring rolls are filled with shrimp, pork, noodles, lettuce, and carrots. The peanut sauce that comes for dipping is perfectly spiced, and not too sweet.

Mr. Oyster's main dish (and occasionally mine as well) is always the traditional beef pho.

Beef Pho
One thing I'm really, really picky about anywhere I eat is that the fruits or vegetables served be high quality and very fresh. Fortunately, all the veggies here pass my picky taste and texture criteria; you'll never see any brownish bean sprouts or wilted mint leaves at Pho Saigon.

Be warned that the size above is a small pho bowl. Order anything bigger at your own risk. The combination of beef, broth, and noodles is extremely filling.

And my usual: the grilled shrimp noodle bowl. It's served with carrots, scallions, bean sprouts, lettuce, peanuts, and fish sauce.

Grilled Shrimp Rice Noodle Bowl

Here is the standard routine with Mr. Oyster and I once the noodle bowl is set in front of me: he makes eyes at me like "hey, just let me have one shrimp".  I glare at him, and quickly move all the shrimp to my side of the bowl. Sometimes, I even build up a rice noodle barricade to further hinder any shrimp theft. He attempts to distract me throughout meal in hopes for a brief window of opportunity to sneak one of the delicious little crustaceans in his mouth. He usually fails usually wins eventually. Anyway, you get the idea, the shrimp are delicious. The portion, however, is too big for me. I usually leave most of the noodles behind.

For both the quality and quantity of food served, Pho Saigon is a bargain. Our bill for the food above, including tax, came to only $17.50 (I believe spring rolls were $3, shrimp bowl was $7, and pho was $6).

They've recently updated their menu to include more vegetarian and vegetable-heavy options, but we haven't had a chance to try any of them. Also, if you're scouring the south suburbs for Boba tea, Pho Saigon offers some twenty or so flavors. 

Pho Saigon is a great place for simple, standard Vietnamese dishes. Just make sure to get there before everyone else does.

Everyday Dining

(8 of 10)

Pros: Great basic Vietnamese food. Speedy and friendly service.
Cons: Very busy at lunch hour, some portions too large

Pho Saigon on Urbanspoon


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