Saigon Bistro

Saigon Bistro has closed

Just a quick hit on the new Saigon Bistro in downtown Santa Rosa.
BiteClub and Co. hit the revamped spot on Mendocino Ave. which
previously housed the ill-fated Vivere, which was previously Nirvana,
which was previously Tahini Grill. The interior hasn’t undergone much
change, aside from repainting and the upstairs balcony is slated to be
open for dinner.
On the plus side, its open for lunch — a boon
to downtowners always looking to mix it up. Prices are reasonable, if
not cheap, making it a distinct possibility for adding into the
noontime rotation. The lengthy menu includes lots of pho
(including some more challenging “authentic” cuts); glass noodle dishes
and plenty of vegetarian options (though I always wonder about the fish
sauce and strict vegetarianism). Grilled meats include bbq pork, lemon grass chicken, Vietnamese meatballs and grilled beef. The
white tablecloth service is upscale casual, perfect for business
lunches. Service is still (understandably) rough, but attentive and
already better than the last two tenants.
On the minus side, the
dishes still need a bit of refining. BiteClub stopped in opening week
and while the dishes look perfectly delish, the meat — especially the chicken — was sawdust dry.
Peanut sauce, which for me is a deal-breaker, was bland, bland, bland.
The fowl soup that accompanied my friend’s lunch was exactly that. The
chili-fish sauce that is usually dumped over noodle bowls had barely a whisper of flavor. Spring rolls were simply ho-hum.
What makes Vietnamese food so appealing (I’m a regular at Pho Vietnam and Simply Vietnam,
who both get it right) are the kick-in-the-tastebud flavors of sweet,
salty, umami and sour, with just a pinch of heat. I live for the
lightly carbonized, sizzling meat with peanuts, noodles and fish sauce.
I would walk a mile in stilettos for warm peanut sauce kissed by lemon grass.
type of cooking is simple to get right. Fresh ingredients, a learned
hand at the grill and a balance of the perfumed herbs will make these
dishes sing. I’m praying that Saigon Bistro can work out the kinks and get it right. They’ll have my business back.
And I’m not alone. On opening day, the house was packed with hopefuls
slurping pho with anticipation. After talking with a few folks who
tried the spot, I wasn’t totally alone in my early disappointment, but
I also wasn’t alone in my willingness to give them another shot.

Downtown needs a little more lemon grass in the mix. I’ll keep you updated.

Saigon Bistro, 420 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, 707.528-3866


2 thoughts on “Saigon Bistro

  1. A friend took me to Saigon Bistro last week and I went back again this week. I grabbed a couple cards to give to my friends. I love the look of the place and the fact that it’s downtown. I have only tried the lemongrass chicken bun, but it was very, very good. My favorite has been the BBQ chicken bun at Saigon Cuisine, but Saigon Bistro could be in the running. I want to try their pho. The service was great. And did I mention the location? It’s nice not to have to frequent a strip mall to get some good Vietnamese food. I’m anxious
    to try different dishes. Oh, by the way, they said they were having a belly dancer this weekend. Might be fun!

  2. Linda (26/08/2008 11:51:13 PM)
    Comment: I am very impress with the food at Saigon Bistro. They do have variety of different food such as vegetarian dishes, hot pot soup, clay pot prawns, etc. You do not get these dishes around here in Sonoma County! I love the food, service, and the decor. You need to try out for yourself.
    Posted By: Dee Dee (23/08/2008 11:51:23 AM)
    Comment: Nick, if you’re reading this, you sound extremely young, immature, plastic, and superficial. The blog is to review the new Vietnamese restaurant pal, NOT THE WAITRESSES/OWNER’S LOOKS AND MARITAL STATUS. Let’s keep this blog for what it’s designated for, reviewing the food, not the superficiality of reviewing/commenting on something that has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter. GROW UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Posted By: Tuan (20/08/2008 5:54:50 PM)
    Comment: I am not impressed… I put my trust in the comments of Chad, the lawyer, and Nick, the real estate agent, and did not enjoy the pho. Yes the décor was nice but the food did not live up to the hype. The appatizers were freakishly similar to other resturante. I usually don’t post blogs but I felt I got mislead from past comments. Please don’t take my word for it. Go try Saigon and make your own opion.
    Posted By: Nick (18/08/2008 4:05:49 PM)
    Comment: I took my friends over to Saigon Bistro for a taste of Vietnamese food. They loved the food! I was impress with the food. We are from a real estate company in downtown of SR. I would come back for more good food. Also the waitress are nice and great looking especially the owner! She is cute (sorry, she is taken). I strongly recommend the place to everyone.
    Posted By: Kelly (15/08/2008 8:38:59 AM)
    Comment: I went over to Saigon Bistro on Wednesday night. The place was full with customers! I tried chicken spring roll, Vietnamese coffee, prawn curry, and the Saigon Bistro’s combinations R1 to be exact. It was amazing! The food came out fast within 7 mins. The service were great. I would come back for lunch and dinner for sure!
    Posted By: Vince (13/08/2008 11:22:24 AM)
    Comment: I went last night. The egg rolls, thai iced tea and jasmine rice were really good. Sadly, the main courses weren’t. The curry my wife got was dry and came with almost no sauce, my pho broth was insipid and lacked body and my condiment plate came with ONE pepper, heh. Oh well. I also find it strange that this place has such rabid fans after being open only a week or two. Makes me wonder who is posting reviews here.
    Posted By: Jim (12/08/2008 8:02:16 AM)
    Comment: I got to try out their food and LOVE IT. The place is clean and the service is awesome. You must check out this link about Simply Vietnam and Pho Vietnam. It talked about this food handler. I got sick at Simply Vietnam and Pho Vietnam!
    Posted By: Chad (11/08/2008 8:36:18 AM)
    Comment: Finally my dream come true! This is the best food in town. The food and service are amazing! I come to this place 3 times a week! Their Pho, rice plates, vermicelli, and appetizers are well put together. I am a lawyer in town and I bring all of my clients to this place for meeting. The environment is very warm and professional!
    Posted By: Jenny (11/08/2008 8:31:16 AM)
    Comment: I love Saigon Bistro! They are the best in town. The love is terrific, the service is outstanding, and the environment is great is relaxing and romantic. The place is well decorate inside and out. From the time you walk in to all the way to the bathroom everything is well done. Again do not listen to other negative comments. You need to try them out first. The prices are reasonable!
    Posted By: kt (06/08/2008 10:20:24 AM)
    Comment: I tried Saigon Bistro this weekend, and having grown up with Vietnamese food all my life, I think Saigon Bistro is delicious! I personally love the pho at Saigon Bistro more than any other of the places in town. For the cheap prices and good food, my husband & I will definitely go back again.
    Posted By: Tony (06/08/2008 9:51:44 AM)
    Comment: Simply Vietnam, I think, serves good food and the ambience is pretty cool & relaxing. But if you’re looking for the very best, head to Pho Vietnam. Yeah, it’s a bit cramped and noisy but c’mon — it’s a hole-in-the-wall soup kitchen…
    Posted By: buckwaverhaven (05/08/2008 9:35:33 PM)
    Comment: I like Simply Vietnam the best! Get the pork and egg over the rice! Egg rolls are awesome and the price is great! Say hi to Linda who is the daughter of the owners. Awesome service! My second choice is Thang Long in Petaluma. The service is not the greatest but food is good. Pho Vietnam use to be great but they went thru some changes so can anyone tell me if it has improved?
    Posted By: Janet (05/08/2008 2:34:38 PM)
    Comment: We’re so happy with Simply Vietnam that I’m not sure I’m willing to try this after reading about the dry meat etc. I’ve found that Simply Vietnam’s Special BBQ bowl at about $9 is enough for two, particularly if we get spring rolls first. I haven’t tried their pho yet and will do that next. But who needs white tablecloths?
    Posted By: Wojamo (05/08/2008 2:20:38 PM)
    Comment: Oh, I eat pho and I am sure there are sounds involved that can most appropriately be labeled as “slurping”- I just don’t like the word. Don’t know why. Also don’t like the words “nosh” or “nibble” (used in relation to food.) Hey- nobody ever said I was normal! 🙂
    Posted By: Heather Irwin (05/08/2008 1:19:35 PM)
    Comment: So, um Woj, what do you do with pho? haha
    Posted By: Wojamo (05/08/2008 1:14:57 PM)
    Comment: Love Vietnamese food. For some reason, I HATE the word “slurp”. Even before reading the review, I was thinking “Ewwwww!” Weird, I know.
    Posted By: Vince (05/08/2008 10:57:24 AM)
    Comment: I just recently tried Simply Vietnam for the first time last weekend and found their pho both bland and gristly, the two things that you lamented in your article about them. So, I wonder if I hit them on a bad day or if things have changed since you wrote that piece. That said, their eggrolls were awesome and my wife loved her curry dish. I think I might try Saigon today!
    Posted By: Karen (05/08/2008 10:33:50 AM)
    Comment: I’m still a die-hard fan of Saigon Cuisine, which apparently has undergone a change in management/ownership. The pho (BBQ chicken) provided more food than I could eat at a very reasonable price of $8.95 and provided me with lunch the next day. Based on your initial review, I don’t know that I’d risk the iffy food/service at this point when I know I can get good food at a reasonable price someplace else. Good luck to them, anyway.

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