I have decided to try my hand at another Vietnamese restaurant in the Harrisonburg, VA,a area, Saigon Cafe, because I really enjoyed Vietopia a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be interesting to see how these restaurants compare, and which one I like better.
Saigon Cafe is located at 787 East Market Street, right across from the Sheetz off of Route 33. It kind of hard to see, but if you are coming from East on East Market street heading toward downtown, it is right after the L’Italia and the Kyoto Japanese Steak House. Here is a map for further clarification and here are driving directions.
The outside patio area is very nice and inviting. I wish it were warmer outside because then I would have had eaten outside on their deck. Their décor inside is very authentic and there is a rich history from the artifacts and paintings inside the restaurant.
The atmosphere in the café was relaxing and calm; there was no music and I arrived right after it opened, so there was no commotion for the most part. My waitress was very nice and gracious towards me. She was an older woman, most likely she is the wife of the owner or the owner herself. Check out their website for more information!
The host/waitress greeted each additional party by either name or obviously familiarity. I went during lunch time and it was quite apparent that everyone else, and by the time I left there were four other parties, were definitely regulars and come somewhat often. I suspect that not too many students know/have visited this restaurant, but I would definitely suggest it! Check out some pictures of the restaurant and their dishes!
As for their menu, it is just as expansive and rare as the Vietopia off of Port Republic Road. There are appetizer options, soups/salads, vermicelli noodle dishes, beef dishes, chicken dishes, a pork dish, and many vegetable options. There is definitely something for everyone at the Saigon Café. Check out this site for their complete menu.
I had a tough time deciding what I would like to try this time from a Vietnamese restaurant because last time I chose the basic course, vermicelli noodles of Vietnam. So, I decided I would try something different. I read reviews online as usual before visiting and a couple of readers commented on the ginger dishes. These readers said that the ginger dishes did not have too much ginger, as many restaurants do not control well.
I can’t say that I have ever had a ginger main course dish, but I chose the sliced beef stir-fry in ginger sauce. My meal came with sliced beef, mixed vegetables in a ginger sauce, along with white rice to pour the stir-fry over. On their online menu, for some reason their beef section is not there, so I could not find the exact name of my dish in Vietnamese.
The readers were definitely right; I thoroughly enjoyed my main course and there was a perfect amount of ginger mixed with my stir-fry. I never really considered ginger a type of sauce that I would like to cover any stir-fry or any type of meal for that matter. But, I am definitely glad I tried this restaurant.
As for the prices, they are just as reasonable as Vietopia, their portions are very similar. I think that Vietopia is a bit more generous with their portions, but I was not hungry when I left the café. My meal was only $9.95 and basically everything else was around that price, with a couple seafood dishes a bit higher.
According to Frank of Roanoke, “Saigon Cafe is another hidden gem. Truly personable service, terrific food and remarkably pleasant atmosphere for a little storefront restaurant. Fresh, light where appropriate and heavy where necessary. Amazing control in the use of ginger.”
Check out this site for more reviews of the Saigon Café.
Saigon Cafe also offers a lunch buffet from 11am to 2pm during the week, and it is under $10, and it seems to be very popular. Most of the customers while I was there, chose to eat at the buffet.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who enjoys Vietnamese food and a fun, laid-back atmosphere with a homey feel. I definitely will go back to this restaurant before leaving Harrisonburg.
As for my next and final restaurant review on Thursday, I am going to visit the Kyoto Japanese Steak House because I have heard some great things about the restaurant and I love Hibachi!
Check out my blog on Thursday night for my last review! Also, over the next week, I will continue to post polling questions and on Sunday, I will post a wrap-up/more suggestions for dining in Harrisonburg, VA.