The Saigon Deli is a tiny Vietnamese restaurant in a strip mall along the Eastern Bypass. We were excited to check it out. No, we were thrilled. Although I had been to one of the two Korean restaurants I know of in Montgomery, I discovered the Saigon Deli on my own one day when stopping by a nearby pet supply store. Although it was closed that Sunday, I made a mental promise to return.
The first problem is that it is hard to get there. While it faces the main road, the turn-in that would seem to be proper does not, in fact, access their parking lot. I’m not sure how to get to the Saigon Deli lot, but we ended up parking next door at the pet supply place.
The decor is pretty weak, although I’m not really a snob for that sort of thing. My focus was on the food, so I didn’t mind that the wallpaper was all branded with some sort of honey glazed ham logos, the corporate leavings of whatever pork-serving entity had previously set up shop in that strip mall. There was a fish tank and a plug-in painting of horses. Sadly, the painting was not plugged in. The tables were equipped with soy, hoisin and sriracha. A massive flatscreen TV blared the Food Network at us while we ate. We saw the “pizza twirling” world record being repeatedly broken.
We ordered two orders of spring rolls (2 per order) and I had the lemongrass tofu, while Kate had the “sweet and sour” tofu. The menu didn’t have a ton of vegetarian items, but we were reasonably satisfied, even though I was suspicious of the sweet and sour order. I had a Vietnamese-style iced coffee.
The spring rolls arrived and were excessively chewy. They were actually tough to the point that they tore in mid-bite, spilling the contents. The peanut sauce seemed to have come from a tube of some sort, perhaps an industrial-sized gallon. It was entirely flavorless and we both added sriracha and soy to the peanut sauce to make it edible enough to finish.
Each dish was also a huge bummer. Both were identical, only Kate’s was doused in a “sweet and sour” sauce that reminded me of the McDonald’s chicken nugget sauce. Mine had a decent lemongrass and pepper flavor. But what was most memorable was the contents of the dishes. Both were several slices of tofu and onions. That’s it. Lots and lots of onions. Tofu and onions. We estimated that each plate contained one full onion, sliced into tiny ribbons. Each plate came with a small side of rice. After about 1/3 of the sweet and sour and 1/2 of the lemongrass, we were all onioned out. We couldn’t even finish.
The total bill ran us about $30, including tip. We won’t be back.