Saigon also serves Vietnamese breakfast and respectable banh mi sandwiches ($3!) at lunch. The restaurant is actually brighter in the evening, thanks to some of the most aggressive track lighting I have ever seen outside a hospital. But the space is charming enough to stand up to the lumens — cozy though not cramped, with lots of red and blonde wood, and deeply color-saturated oil paintings of vignettes from the countryside of old Vietnam.

There is more color in the lovely Vietnamese dresses worn by the two young women who run the front of the room. They are real charmers themselves, and though they bring your food to table a bit willy-nilly, they work hard to help you negotiate the crowd of dishes they create. Sauces were gestured at, explained, and occasionally picked up and poured. They greet you with a complimentary appetizer or soup. When we waited five minutes for a table we were apologized to profusely. But Saigon need make no apologies for its charming service, or for its hybridity. What's best about Vietnamese cuisine is its openness to outside influences, and Saigon offers many good ways to experience the results.

Brian Duff can be reached atbduff@une.edu.

< prev  1  |  2  | 
  Topics: Restaurant Reviews , Asia, Vietnam, Saigon,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY BRIAN DUFF
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE QUAY TO GOOD LIVING  |  July 11, 2014
    Though they offer an appealing moral clarity, in practice zero tolerance policies have ruined any number of urban schools, fragile marriages, and card-marred soccer games. Zero tolerance almost ruined Portland a few years back, too.
  •   BITING INTO THE FANTASY  |  July 10, 2014
    Is it a sign of the shallowness of our national culture that we have spent half a decade excited by the idea of food served from trucks? Sure. But is it a symptom of some deeper condition? I suspect so. This summer offers a chance to investigate thanks to the arrival of a critical mass of food trucks around Portland, along with the film Chef, about a restaurant chef who starts a food truck.  
  •   A RAIL-CAR PALACE IN BIDDEFORD  |  June 11, 2014
    The barrel roofed train-car looks incredibly good given it’s nearly a century old.
  •   FINDING BALANCE IN BRISKET  |  June 06, 2014
    Salvage might suggest a plausible strategy to...salvage the distinctive experience of casual dining in Maine.
  •   THREE TIMES LUCKY  |  May 16, 2014
    Miyake’s new diner reclaims the location of his original restaurant, the wonderful Food Factory. 

 See all articles by: BRIAN DUFF