Monday, April 23, 2007

Miss Saigon

Nashville Restaurants
Miss Saigon
5849 Charlotte Pike
Nashville, TN
Closed Tuesdays

If you can tell the popularity of a place by the Sunday lunch crowd, Miss Saigon is doing well indeed. The Sunday we visited was crazy busy. Every table was filled and people just kept coming in the door. Despite it all, the staff did a good job keeping up and the food didn’t show any signs of stress. That’s good because Miss Saigon offers some of the best Vietnamese food in town.

Miss Saigon sits just across the parking lot from fellow restaurant Kien Giang, which is interesting from a competitive standpoint. The menu is well organized and includes English translations of dishes below the Vietnamese title. Many of us know Pho and a couple of other Vietnamese words. The translations make the rest of the menu accessible. The vegetarian really enjoyed the vegetarian section of the menu. It can often be hit or miss for her at ethnic restaurants, trying to decipher what might be veggie and what might be meat.

We started with the spring rolls. They are served cold and wrapped in thin rice paper. Inside, lettuce, cilantro, scallions and carrot slices add a crisp, fresh feel to the pork and tofu. Sauces are always a big part of the Vietnamese meal experience. The pork version comes with a subtle, sweet chili sauce. The tofu spring rolls came with a zipped up soy sauce.

The meat eater tackled the Mi Do Bien, which is egg noodle soup with seafood. We say tackled because it’s a big bowl, filled with a light brown broth, various greens, shrimp, crab meat and what appeared to be squid. Bean sprouts, cilantro, lime and hot peppers are served on the side. The flavors manage to maintain some clarity in the light broth. It tasted fresh and without any hint of MSG, which is not the case at some other Vietnamese places in town.

The vegetarian opted for the Tofu Xao Xa Ot, which is lemon grass tofu, stir fried over Vermicelli. The tofu was cooked perfectly, lightly fried with just enough chewiness to make it substantial. The Vermicelli is also a highlight at Miss Saigon. They serve more than 20 dishes with Vermicelli.

Pho is part of the Miss Saigon menu, but not largest part. They branch out with other items like Korean spare ribs.

It can take some maneuvering with the mainly Vietnamese speaking staff, but it’s well worth it and there are plenty of smiles all around, even on our busy Sunday.

Meat eater: Even though I got yelled at by the vegetarian for putting too much Hoisin sauce in my soup (I’m a sucker for Hoisin), we had a lovely time. I want to tackle those spare ribs next go around. They looked great.

Vegetarian: I didn’t yell; I simply made a pointed comment. A Hoisin intervention, if you will. The spring rolls were delightful and my tofu was great. I really appreciated the fact that there was a Vegetarian section on the menu, since a lot of ethnic restaurants’ menus are not comprehensive in listing ingredients and I’m not very good at saying “Vegetarian” in Vietnamese.
Miss Saigon on Urbanspoon