Saigon Bay: Yummy Vietnamese, No Outback SteakHouse, All is Well
1407 Howe Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95825
Saigon Bay is a very good option for Vietnamese food if you find yourself in the Outback Steakhouse Pit of Despair down Howe. No perky under-paid wait-staff or rubbery mixed grills found here: just flavorful, cheap, and fresh Vietnamese treats. I can dig it.
The menu is extensive and quite interesting, featuring a wide variety of rice plates, rice noodle bowls (bun) and lots of pho and seafood soups. The price is definitely right too: few menu items break ten bucks, and portions are BIG. (And you should never eat anything bigger then your head.) There's also plenty of bubble tea drinks and milkshake options, which almost everyone other then me seemed to be ordering and slurping down with joy and happiness. The selection of green teas is distinctive and interesting, and I'll definitely be sampling them when I return, if I ever get over my Diet Coke addiction. The house speciality seems to be pho, which I never seem to try, but I was pleased to note they serve pho in different serving sizes...I generally can't manage to finish the bowls that are considerably bigger then my head. That's a lot of liquified cow.
Since I was on my own that night, serving as the ever-game Token Caucasian in the joint, I just order the lemongrass chicken and prawn rice noodle bowl. These bowls are one of my favorite food items in the universe, and I was extremely pleased with it. The portion size was big, especially considering I only paid 6.95, and they brought out plenty of fish sauce for me to pour over it. The meats were excellent: the chicken was moist, flavorful, and had a wonderful lemongrass flavor (and there was TONS of it), and the prawns were big and meaty, although I wish they'd given me more then four. I was also pleased to find there were plenty of crispy, fresh veggies at the bottom of the bowl...the more the better by my standards. I dipped the meats in the hoisin sauce provided at the table and was a happy puppy.
The decor is slightly nicer then most of the Vietnamese places I frequent, though don't expect the Ritz Carlton. The music is a bit cheesy but the furnishings and tables are comfortable, and the restaurant is kept pretty clean. (And you won't be knocked back by that characteristic Vietnamese restaurant fish-sauce reek either.) I was really happy with the service, which was quick and friendly. My server even ran outside to find me after I stupidly left my credit card behind. Thanks man!
I'll be back to try the other menu items soon and will doubtless edit this review. On basis of the rice noodle bowl alone, Saigon Bay is a win.