Friday, April 24, 2009

Cheap Eats at Little Saigon – March 13, 2009

I think I’ve mentioned my love for Little Saigon before. I fell in love with their crispy little spring rolls. It was here that I introduced Jimmy to Vietnamese cuisine. It was here that I sold Christine on the virtues of rice-paper-wrapped spring rolls. It was here that I routinely spent $20 for a meal that feeds two young Asians with disproportionately HUGE stomachs.

On the left side of the photo, just out of frame, is a plate of those delicious spring rolls. It’s obvious that many people share the kitchen duties at Little Saigon because the spring rolls’ deliciousness varies day to day.

The fillings include ground pork, shredded carrots, vermicelli noodles, wood ear mushrooms, and lots of pepper. Jimmy and I judge the spring rolls by the amount of pepper they contain. More pepper = yummy!

Jimmy ordered their tom yum goong, which comes with lots of little goodies: shrimp, enoki mushrooms, and uh, soup. Once I started listing them, I realized that there aren’t THAT many goodies. Just lots of the few types of goodies. (Terrible sentence, but I shall ignore it.) The mushrooms are clearly the best part of the soup. Little Saigon doesn’t use coconut milk in their version, so Jimmy loves this version.

I had #19 small. It’s their pho with little bits of everything. I don’t add anything to the soup except for a squeeze of lemon (for some reason, Little Saigon serves lemons instead of limes). I was really craving a bowl of pho, so this tasted delicious to me when I ate it.

Little Saigon’s pho normally has decent soup, but the noodles are almost always overcooked. Also, they don’t provide a side dish with fresh accompaniments, such as bean sprouts, fresh herbs (basil and sawtooth herb), and lime wedges. The bean sprouts are already in the soup by the time the bowl gets to your table, so there’s not a lot of customization to be had.

I am very particular about my pho. I don’t like an overly sweet soup, and I HATE it when the noodles are over/under-cooked. I’m soooooooo nitpicky about these things that sometimes, I just can’t believe I settle for Little Saigon’s version. It’s just not that great. It satisfies a pho craving, but it just doesn’t compare the some of the awesome bowls of pho I’ve eaten in Montreal.

But it’s cheap. And this is Kingston. Lower your expectations a little, and head on over to Little Saigon. The spring rolls are worth it.

~ * ~

Little Saigon
284 Princess Street (across from McDonald’s)
Kingston, ON
(613) 536-5774

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