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Saigon Pearl


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#1 FoodKid

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 09:21 PM

At about 82nd and Division across from the PCC campus is a new Viet restaurant called the Saigon Pearl. I haven't been yet, but the online menu looks somewhat promising with over a hundred items. Curious to see how they do, though I worry about how much they're paying for space since it's huge.

Sun-Sat
10AM - 10PM
2204 SE 82nd Ave.
Portland, OR. 97216

http://www.saigonpearl-restaurant.com

#2 goodbyeohio

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:32 AM

they don't offer a brisket-only pho. weird!
Cause I like to drink whiskey by the gallon, I live on peanut butter sandwiches, I don't care
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#3 ExtraMSG

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:32 PM

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Passed by this place many times, but the $5 pho special made me always think it might be just another crappy pho place. But decided to go recently anyway.

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It was cavernous and empty inside the night we went. They said they fill up for lunch on weekends. Big menu, fairly typical.

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We started with their chicken salad. It was pretty damn good. The dressing was well-balanced, the veggies well-balanced, and the chicken beautifully cooked, well-charred, flavorful and juicy.

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My wife got the bun thit nuong. The eggroll was crisp, tasty, and greaseless. The pork was okay, not grilled near as nicely as the chicken. But the noodles, veggies, etc, were all good.

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Also got a bowl of pho. Noodles and meats were all fine. The broth was pretty tasty. It was moderately beefy, aromatic and savory, lacking the sweetness that plagues so many. Herb plate was decent with culantro and basil.

Based on this meal, I'll go back. Everything was solid. There's not a lot out of the ordinary on the menu, but there's a lot on the menu so they've probably got some real winners. With the old diner seating, too, it's a pretty comfortable restaurant.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#4 Quo Vadis

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 01:40 PM

Skin on thigh in the chix salad?
Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances-Hume

#5 ExtraMSG

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 05:06 PM

No, it was skinless. But there were some pieces that had little layers of fat between them. I assume they pounded them into a paillard before grilling.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#6 Quo Vadis

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:15 PM

After months of passing this place by Mel and I dropped in based on MSG's recommendation.

We were the only guests while we were there. For people who like well lit spots and booths this will be a comfortable place.
Service was very kind and attentive, very eager to please. If you order things with offal or "unusual" cuts of meat and aren't of SE Asian origin they are likely to ask you if you know what that is and if you still want it. They are apologetic about doing so and very nice about it so no reason to take offense- places like this will always get stuff sent back by people who don't know what they're ordering.

I recommend if you are in a hurry (lunch) and order aps and entrees you might want to ask to have it all brought at once as otherwise they wait until you are done with aps to bring your main course. Technically good service- but not always best during a workday meal.

Mel had the salad rolls. I'm allergic to shrimp so I didn't try them. They looked like a well made version of the standard. Peanut sauce that accompanied was a bit unusual for my taste (not bad per se). I suspect they used a standard Japanese style shoyu like Yamasa or Kikkoman instead of fish sauce so they could multipurpose it with vegetarian aps as well. No matter, just not my cuppa.

She also had the small pho (with all the tendon and gnarly bits included). It was packed with meat, so for thhose who are into that a good value. The small was quite large. Good herb plate accompanied, nothing terribly interesting, mostly Thai basil and sprouts.. but abundant and very fresh.

I had the chicken salad off the specials page (far back page of menu). It was $8.5 and very good. Salad of fine shredded vegetables lightly marinated like a very mild version of the pickles on a banh mi, shredded cabbage, onions and whole, herbs, some fried shallots and very well grilled marinated chicken. Chicken was boneless, skinless thighs, smokey and very tender.

Meal came with free jasmine tea.
Very solid affordable and tasty place for lunch.
Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances-Hume

#7 ExtraMSG

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 02:30 PM

Been a couple more times. Here are some pics from a report where we tried mostly new dishes (someone had the pho, too).

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Salad rolls, pork and shrimp. Lots of herbs, lettuce, etc. Solid, not great. Decent typical nuoc cham on the side.

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Solid banh xeo. I like it a little more crisp, but it was crisper than it looks, not soggy, but still custardy inside and decently flavorful. Lots of pork and shrimp, though neither were as good as they could be. Really nice herb plate for the banh xeo.

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Good noodle curry soup. Not as thick as some noodle curries, but plenty flavorful and a good level of intensity for eating the whole big bowl -- not so intense you tired of it, but enough that it didn't seem weak or bland. Potatoes, noodles, carrots, meat, etc, and an herb plate.

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The winner of the night, though, was the bun mam.

The pieces of fish were excellent, not overcooked, big & meaty, no off flavors. Not a fan of eggplant, but it had some nice chunks of eggplant that my wife enjoyed and the broth took on some of that flavor in a good way. There was also shrimp in the soup.  The broth was quite good, really well-balanced with a little funkiness, sweetness, tanginess, meatiness. Bonus: really nice herb plate. Noodles were cooked well. In fact, I normally eat just enough noodles to get them out of the way of the other stuff, but this time I ate all the noodles because they had soaked up all that delicious broth. I was bloatedly stuffed afterward because I couldn't stop eating the noodles.

This is a great soup and one that noodle soup lovers in town should go out of their way for.


Edited by ExtraMSG, 12 January 2013 - 05:50 PM.
Corrected, changing bun nuoc leo to bun mam

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#8 EvaB

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 06:25 PM

Nick,
The description and picts of that soup sounds/looks like the Bun Mam (prob spelled incorrectly) at Pho Oregon. Is it different?
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twenty-eight divine creations too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor, try the flavors on my list...


#9 ExtraMSG

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 07:34 PM

I don't think bun nuoc leo is usually as funky as bun mam. It's been a while since I've had that at Pho Oregon. Probably will in January though. Planning to eat all noodle soups for 30 days. I imagine some of our Viet members could give a better distinction.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#10 ExtraMSG

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 07:36 PM

Just looked at a few recipes/descriptions from bloggers I trust online. Looks like bun mam uses fermented shrimp paste, the purple stuff, whereas bun nuoc leo uses unfiltered fish sauce. Not sure if that's a hard rule, though.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#11 EvaB

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 09:29 AM

Interesting. I wondered because the fish/eggplant/pork are the same. The version at Oregon is pretty fishy and I always have to assure them that I know what it is and like it! The greyish shrimp (?) paste comes (to me anyway) on the side, and the herb plate includes banana blossom.
Cool Moon Ice Cream

with apologies to Jack Prelutsky's "Bleezer's Ice Cream Store"

I am Eva Marianna
I run COOL MOON ICE CREAM STORE,
there are flavors in my freezer you have never seen before,
twenty-eight divine creations too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor, try the flavors on my list...


#12 philthyanimal

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 07:27 PM

Nics right bun mam uses shrimp paste. I've never eaten bun nuoc Leo but nuoc leo is a generic word that typically just means broth. My vietnamese isn't really that great but Ha from Ha and vl called her pepper ball pork broth a nuoc leo as well.

#13 richardbamboothai

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 12:42 AM

wow. got to check the resturant out this weekend.

Bamboo Thai

www.bamboo-thai.com

email: bamboo-thai.com

(503)241-2691


#14 TastyTidbits1

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 10:49 PM

Stopped by tonight for dinner. We had the spring roles, chicken salad, pho, and Bun thit nuong. The spring roles tasted fresh and crispy, the pho broth was light and pleasant (I like a little more star anise but that's picky), and the salad though simple, tasted bright and crisp. The vegetables and herbs all around were fresh.

We noticed varied herb plates and toasted french rolls being carried out to accompany different bowls of soup.

Service was very pleasant. The place was almost empty when we arrived but a few more tables filled by the time we left. Please go as this is one of the better places on 82nd and I really want to see it rightfully succeed.

#15 Jim K.

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 02:07 AM

The photos look amazing. I realized that there are many pho places popping up in similar proximity. Is this the one real close to Pho Van and Karma Cafe? I need to visit here sometime as they seem to have dishes that no one has. I haven't had a decent Vietnamese curry soup here. However, HA VL comes very close to a good one.

#16 bwolff

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:25 PM

I don't know much about vietnamese food, but went here the other day and thought it was quite good. We had chicken salad and pork hash. Perhaps the most obvious feature was the predominance of asian clients.

#17 ExtraMSG

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:06 PM

Interesting. I wondered because the fish/eggplant/pork are the same. The version at Oregon is pretty fishy and I always have to assure them that I know what it is and like it! The greyish shrimp (?) paste comes (to me anyway) on the side, and the herb plate includes banana blossom.


Just an FYI: that picture is the bun mam. You were right. I went in the other day to have the bun mam to see how it differed. Got the same bowl of soup. Asked about the nuoc leo and they said they don't serve it anymore, that the broth is similar but milder and no one was ordering it. So when I ordered it they must have just brought me the bun mam instead. (Give it to the white guy. He won't know the difference. ;) ) btw, I had to insist that they let me order it.

Will hopefully post tomorrow, but I had the bun mam at Pho Oregon today just to compare. Very similar, except there is squid and poultry (tasted like turkey to me, but WTF do I know). Broths are very similar, especially once you add the chile sauce. Salad plate has less banana blossom but cabbage instead of lettuce. Herbs similar. Eggplant probably better (fewer seeds) at Pho Oregon, but I don't eat the stuff. Fish was better quality at Saigon. I'd say it's a draw.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#18 EvaB

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:13 PM

I went tonight! Had the pancake, a taste of salad rolls, and a bowl of the chicken curry with french bread (not up for noodles after all the other things). First of all, I thought this was the best of the pancakes I have had, though I haven't had it at that many places so I'd like to know, Nick, where to get the best one so I can compare. It seems to me that this dish is never very seasoned, relying more on the herb plate and dipping sauce for the zesty component. Saigon's herb plate for this had the lettuce for wrapping, and cilantro and mint. I liked the combo of not-overcooked bean sprouts, shrimp and sliced pork filling. Some of the other versions I've experienced had big pieces of calamari (the big-ass squid!) which are inevitably tough and chewy, so I did not miss this.

 

For me, the pinnacle of salad rollness is Pho An because of the high herb content (no comments!). This one at Saigon, like Pho Oregon's version, seemed more lettucy and thus, to me, less interesting in flavor. The dipping sauce was thick and peanutty and benefited from liberal application of the chunky chili sauce.

 

I liked the curry soup. It was as Nick described and photographed above, but with a french roll instead of the noodles, which made good dipping material! I did not receive any herbs with my soup unless the plate they put in front of my friend who got Pho was supposed to be for both of us??? I did like the fact that they use chicken thighs which hold up well to the longer cooking. They had very nice texture, and there were lots of them--more than I could eat.

 

I didn't try the Pho but DP's comments mirrored those above--good but not as good as the usual front-runners.

 

Interesting menu deserving of more investigation--seems especially heavy on rice plates. Will happily investigate further especially in the upcoming months when my home kitchen is under construction!


Cool Moon Ice Cream

with apologies to Jack Prelutsky's "Bleezer's Ice Cream Store"

I am Eva Marianna
I run COOL MOON ICE CREAM STORE,
there are flavors in my freezer you have never seen before,
twenty-eight divine creations too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor, try the flavors on my list...


#19 ExtraMSG

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 10:10 PM

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We started with some fish sauce wings.  They were crisp and juicy, fairly large, but the sauce was just okay, lacking intensity.  There also wasn't enough of the sauce.  Along with the salad rolls, probably the weakest item I've had here, though still above average.

 

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Went in and got the banh mi bo kho the other day.

 

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I thought it was good -- rich, yet not overly greasy, meaty and aromatic.  The chunks of beef were tender and delicious.  There were plenty of carrots which were tender, but not mushy.  The banh mi itself wasn't the best, but good enough for dipping.

 

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My dining companion got the bun bo hue.

 

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Good herb plate with lots of banana blossom, sprouts, lettuce, mint, tia to, basil, lime, and jalapeno.

 

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The broth was well-balanced, in a league with the better BBHs in town.  It was spicy, rich and flavorful, with an underlying sweetness.  The soup was stuffed with meat, too.  It had pork knuckle, strips of beef, a lot of pork loaf, and pork blood.  The noodles were bound a little tightly but cooked fine.  As with every soup I've had here so far it's at least a B+ version. 

 

This place is turning out to be very good overall with good variety with some items that are arguably the best versions in town.  I'm pissed at myself for waiting so long to try some of these newer places.


The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's

#20 ExtraMSG

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 10:33 PM

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So the other day when I got the bun mam for second time (accidentally) as described above, my wife got the hu tieu nam vang.  It comes with fish balls, krab, pork loaf, sliced pork, and quail eggs.  There was also another meat -- a bit denser and more livery -- but forgot to ask what it was.  My guess is that it was pig heart from the flavor and texture.  Could have been tongue, but I saw no evidence of that. 

 

The broth was mild with just a hint of the fish that were in it.  I would guess that it was pork cut with chicken broth.  I rarely get hu tieu because of its lack of funk and spices in the broth and also because I despise krab.  But my wife was sick and this was good option for her.  Her favorite part was the quail eggs, which were nicely cooked.

 

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Herb plate was the simplest so far, just cilantro, sprouts, lime, and jalapeno.


The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole & Kenny & Zuke's