Monday, April 14, 2008


Last Friday evening's temperature gave way to the perfect night to take a stroll outside, dine al fresco, and lick melting ice cream from my finger tips.

Chuti and I headed up to Shirlington to have dinner at the newly opened Saigonique: Authentic Vietnamese cuisine restaurant. It would be unfair to judge on the authenticity of their cuisine, as I'm only versed in the pho bowls and vermicelli; but here is my humble take on the establishment.

The walls painted in deep red with splashes of white table clothes throughout the dining room. The ambiance radiated a feeling of being in a Thai restaurant; whatever that means. Walking past the dining patrons, I looked at and smelled the dishes being served. The aroma was pleasant but my gaze was left wandering. From the glimpses of food on neighboring tables, the portions looked huge so I opted to order an appetizer and soup.

I ordered the banh mi; traditionally a cold cut sandwich with an assortment of pickled vegetables on a french baguette, so when I told the waiter that I had ordered the banh mi and not what he brought me, he said that that was what I ordered. The "finger sandwich" was deep-fried and tasted much like the shrimp cakes Chuti gets at Thai Lemongrass. Not bad, but not what I expected. As for the soup, I chose the Saigon Egg Noodles with shrimp and pork. The broth tasted like it was overseasoned with MSG. I will say this though, they used quality ingredients and points are given for cleanliness. I told Chuti that a revisit would not be imminent but overhearing the next table talking about the "caramelized" dishes being the most authentic dishes on the menu, I may go back for a taste.

As for the service, the FOH staffers seemed eager to please, but unfortunately fell short in the execution and I felt my personal space being invaded a few times by our server. Dude, don't touch my chopsticks! Although it wasn't al fresco dining, they did have palm fans on the ceiling swaying back and forth. I didn't have my camera with me so my phone had to do.

Afterwards, we strolled across to Maggie Moos for some ice cream. I had vanilla bean with Oreo cookies and brownies. I asked for fudge but that meant I would have had to eat it from a cup and where's the fun in that? mm...mooyummy...

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