Saigon Pho

Saigon Pho Vietnamese Noodle & Grill

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I’ve been wanting to come here for some time.  I don’t know a lot about Vietnamese food other than its a combination of Asian ingredients influenced by the French due to their occupation of the country.  Quite honestly, I don’t know what is good or bad Vietnamese food.  I only know if I like what I’ve tasted locally. I assumed it should be a bit spicy, fresh, full of flavor, even bursting with flavor, freshness and nothing that would ever come close to anything else.  Both times I’ve tried it, its fallen short.  Not a lot of flavor, not a lot of spice, and certainly nothing that really made me say “wow”.  This is not a fault of the food, but the people preparing, cooking and serving it.  When you combine Asian with French, how can it possibly be uneventful? It simply shouldn’t.  This is why I know there is better Vietnamese food out there, it just sucks int he places I’ve attempted to eat it.

So, to concentrate on this one particular instance, I admit, I was hungry, tired, and not in the mood for anything but a good experience.  Even still, this place was not my first choice though I’ve been meaning to come for a year, maybe two.

The waiter comes to us greeting us with what must be a routine.  He continues to serve 4 glasses of water though there are only 2 of us and continues with “I am here to take care of you so in return you will take care of me”.  It started off with a friendly chuckle and a good-humored waiter, but now I am totally turned off and not happy, I can’t even fake a chuckle or a smile.  Maybe I was in a bad mood, its my birthday and the waiter is already aggressively asking for a tip. Really?  Here we sit to be greeted and we are being hit up for a tip (which is a given), but we have not even ordered and all we have prompt service for is water, which we did not even ask for?  I am pretty eco-green like that.  I don’t need water, if its an option, I say no.  Its usually tap water, mostly ice (which I can’t really drink due to a throat/thyroid issue) and I just assume you don’t waste a glass and the water since I am not really going to drink it.  I might take a sip just to see if it does taste like chlorine, or out of guilt that its there and I should at least look like I drank some of it. However, as much as I appreciate it, and the lemon wedge it came with, I really just rather the waiter come with a pitcher of water and ask if I want any.

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Long story short, the food was not very eventful outside of the quail appetizer.  I will note that it cost $12, which was more than our entree, but it was the most worthwhile on the menu, very tasty, well worth it.

Now many of you might think to say “why not get the pho since that is the name of the place and an authentic Vietnamese dish”?   Well, because a trusted friend of mine, who happens to be a noted author and food critic and reviewer said that their Pho had about as much taste as dishwater.   Harsh, but I can see now how that was very closer to the truth.  The food was completely tasteless.  The fish sauce the beef rolls came with was week, the beef was tasty, but the pork meatballs were nothing short of bland.  In fact, if they had served me breakfast sausage from a diner, it would have had more flavor.  I have to admit the vegetables on the plate were fresh, crisp and flavorful.  The fresh mint sprig was about the best tasting thing on the plate.

Saigon Pho
744 US-46 Parsippany NJ 07054
Web saigonnj46.com Phone 973-794-4632

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