Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Saigon Saigon

Saigon Saigon in Arlington is just one of the many decent Asian-cuisine options at Pentagon Row. From on-point seafood entreés, soft summer rolls and beach vacation-inspired cocktails, the Vietnamese restaurant has everything diners need to take their palates on a tropical getaway … or at least fake it for a brief hibernation from the chilly outdoors.spotlight

 

Saigon Saigon in Arlington is just one of the many decent Asian-cuisine options at Pentagon Row. From on-point seafood entreés, soft summer rolls and beach vacation-inspired cocktails, the Vietnamese restaurant has everything diners need to take their palates on a tropical getaway … or at least fake it for a brief hibernation from the chilly outdoors.

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Saigon Saigon (Photo: News-Press)

It’s to say, however, that the best thing about Saigon Saigon — perhaps even more so than the quality flavor of its fare — is the fact it’s one of the coziest restaurants on the Row, another refreshing aspect to induce that mental hiatus from the hustle and bustle of the area’s urban surroundings.

With candlelit tables, wall sconces and an overall serene atmosphere, think: 1) good date night out; and 2) good party-of-one night out without feeling like everyone’s staring. Saigon Saigon has got the elbow room Thaiphoon lacks and the quiet environment Chammps Americana can’t even begin to provide with its overzealous amount of TV sets.

An ideal starter for patrons’ faux island vacation is the Garden Roll ($4.95 for 2). The softer rice-paper rolls are stuffed with pork, shrimp, mint leaves, crunchy vermicelli and vegetables. Served up with a side of Vietnamese-style peanut sauce, these rolls are anything but wimpy despite their twosome serving size.

The Spicy Seafood Fried Rice ($12.95) comes in a heaping bowl of grains mixed with scallops, shrimp and calamari, boasting hints of garlic and red pepper. Though this dish isn’t hot enough to send anyone into a sweat, there’s enough of a kick there to intrigue the taste buds.

Another seaside favorite worth checking out is one of Chef Vu’s laundry list of menu specialties, the Ginger Salmon ($13.95). Pieces of fresh Atlantic salmon filet, slow-cooked in country-style ginger sauce, comes mixed in a bowl of steamed vegetables and with a sprinkling of jasmine rice. Not to be confused with the side of white rice that accompanies this dish, the abundance of ginger sauce is best absorbed by the slow addition of white rice throughout one’s meal so as not to overpower the strong flavor.

Ideal to pair with the salmon is the Golden Sunrise ($8), a cocktail mixture of Absolut Citron vodka, orange liqueur and orange juice, all garnished with a lime, lemon and, yes, a paper umbrella.

But Saigon Saigon’s seaside-esque dinner entreés and dreamy cocktails aren’t the only things to rave about. Serving lunch as well, steals include the restaurant’s 20 different lunch box-style combos ($8.95). Each of them — from Curry Tofu to Chicken Penang — include a crispy spring roll, small house salad and steamed jasmine rice in a tray resembling the average bento box. There’s also hanoi beef noodle soup, or pho, available for both lunch ($7.95-8.95) and dinner ($8.50-10.50).

Aside from Saigon Saigon’s craving-inducing spread and welcoming atmosphere, the service has been consistently satisfying. Having been there multiple times, not once was an order incorrect, cooked wrong or too slow to arrive to the table. On top of that, the staff is happy to get plates out of the way and box up anything customers would like to take with them.

Saigon Saigon’s sister restaurants, also at Pentagon Row, are Zen Bistro & Wine Bar (1301 S. Joyce St., Suite. D9, Arlington) and Asia Bistro (1301 S. Joyce St., Suite D7, Arlington), both of which offer happy hour specials on the other side of the Row’s courtyard behind the outdoor skating rink.

As its Web site boasts, if Saigon Saigon is truly a “taste of Vietnam” diners should pack their appetites’ bags and get ready to escape — if only for a sip of sunrise on the rocks.

Saigon Saigon

1101 South Joyce Street, Arlington, VA

saigonsaigonpentagonrow.com • 703-412-0822

Hours:

Open Daily 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.