Thursday, July 12, 2007

Saigon on Fifth - San Diego

Our luck with restaurants got better as our visit to San Diego wore on. While looking for Kitima, I'd noticed the sign for Saigon on Fifth. After we left Kitima, we went down the block to Saigon to look at the menu. Upon entering, I could tell it wasn't your typical Vietnamese place. It had a gorgeous interior, and looked very upscale. The menu wasn't your typical Vietnamese either. It had some dishes that I'd only seen at another more upscale VN place in Dallas years ago. I snagged a takeout menu to study better and told Tara I'd definitely like to try this place.

Sunday night, we decided to give it a try. We drove by several times because we couldn't tell if it was open or not. It was dark inside and the Open sign was turned off. After our third drive-by, Tara said she saw people inside, so we parked in the adjacent underground parking garage (parking in the Hillcrest district sucks, for those who haven't been). We took the elevator up and came out in an indoor courtyard garden. We noticed tables setup just to our left, and wondered of it was part of the restaurant. We exited the building and walked around to the front door of the restaurant. It was indeed open and quite a few tables in the front room were occupied. We were seated in a booth in the corner and given the menus.

What had initially captured my attention on the first look was some of the Table Specialties: Beef a la Grill, Vinegar Fondue Beef, and Sugar Cane Shrimp. I haven't seen these at too many restaurants. I thought about getting one of them, but after our long walk to and from the cruise, and several hours on the water, I wasn't feeling that ambitious. Instead, I asked our very helpful waitress about some of the dishes and decided on a noodle dish with duck confit. It's not on the takeout menu I have, and I can't remember the exact name or all the ingredients. Tara went with the 360 degree Beef. I got a small bowl of dumpling soup. For appetizers, we got Imperial rolls and Cream Cheese Wonton. We both ordered Cokes to drink.

When the drinks arrived, we both thought they tasted odd. Tara thought hers was diet Coke, while mine just tasted flat. When our waitress came by, we asked for new drinks: Tara got a new glass of Coke, and I switched to lemonade. This round was fine. We're not quite sure what happened the first time, but it was the only glitch of the night.

My dumpling soup arrived shortly after and I loved it. The bowl was full of vegetables and two large dumplings. The broth was very rich and holding it my mouth I could taste all the flavor. It certainly seemed like a homemade stock to me. The vegetables were still crunchy and the dumplings were very good too. The dumplings were stuffed with a combination of shrimp, crab, and chicken. I could have gone for another bowl. Tara really enjoyed it too, and her taste turned into many more spoonfuls. A definite hit.

The cream cheese wontons were filled with a cream cheese seasoned with scallions and spices. They were very good as well. The plum sauce that came with them tasted homemade and was very good. No complaints on these either.

The Imperial rolls were filled with fresh crab meat, shrimp, chicken, and vegetables. I believe they came with a peanut sauce as well as plum sauce, but I could be mistaken. They were as good as the rest of the meal. Freshly rolled and the ingredients were top notch.

Tara's 360 degree beef was cubes of filet mignon that had been marinated and then sauteed with black pepper and garlic and served in a sauce. The bite I had was very tender with really good flavor. She really liked it.

My dish had several pieces of duck confit on top of a mound of noodles, with vegetables on one end, and something else that I can't remember on the other. The duck was great. Rich flavor and falling off the bones. I just wish a little bigger amount of it was included. The noodles were also very good, with a strong flavor of the sauce they were cooked in. I never actually tried the vegetables. I was full by that time.

All of the dishes came on really nice dishes and the presentation was outstanding. Stuff wasn't just dumped on the plate. It was a very nice touch and matched the atmosphere the interior of the restaurant suggested. The service was fine as well once the initial drink thing was ironed out. Our waitress was very helpful and stopped by frequently to make sure our drinks were filled and everything was going ok.

All in all, we enjoyed our meal immensely. After the horrible service at China Max and the bizarre experience at Kitima, this was a welcome change.


lynn said...

how old are you? 12? have you ever taken an english class?

Yankee1969 said...

Yeah, but judging by your typing, you haven't. Capitalization is traditional when writing. Guess you missed that.