Saturday, 5 April 2008

Pho Saigon

Finding ourselves at the Gold Coast for a couple of nights, I was amazed at how many restaurants there are in Broadbeach now. They pretty much cover every cuisine you can think of, and there are even a few BYO places.

Anyway I'd been lucky enough to have a big lunch at Harvey's, so I was really looking for something relatively light and healthy. We'd pretty much checked out most of the places on offer at Broadbeach, before stumbling upon Pho Saigon on Albert Avenue. It's right next door to the always popular Manolas Brothers Delicatessen (or MBD as its known around here).

Pho Saigon only had about 2 tables of diners when we arrived, but we didn't let that put us off, as we were determined to gobble down some tasty Vietnamese. The menu is pretty comprehensive, and also covers a few dishes from around Asia.

For entree, we ordered the Vietnamese hot & sour chicken soup ($5.50) and the vegetarian rice paper rolls ($10). The soup was tasty, but not exactly what I was expecting. There was plenty of tasty, tender chicken, together with a few vegetables and 5 or so chunks of pineapple. It was a good soup, but a bit too sweet for my liking. It really needed a bit more sourness and heat to counteract the sweetness of the pineapple.

The vegetarian rice paper rolls were very fresh, with good quality tofu and were served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. There were four very good sized rolls, so this was a pretty filling start to the meal. We only just got through the four of them.

For mains, we went with a Vietnamese beef salad ($14.50) and the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce ($7.90). There are plenty of mains to choose from, with the menu split up into categories of lemongrass & chilli, curry coconut milk & lemongrass, sizzling garlic butter hot plates, sizzling hot plates with satay sauce, ginger shallots with oyster sauce, beef noodle soup, egg/rice noodle soup, laksa, congee, vermicelli, rice dishes, stir fried noodle, salt & pepper, sweet & sour, vegetable and salad. None of the main courses are over $18, so they are all pretty good value.

Again, my main course was not what I was expecting. The beef salad was more like Thai salads I had eaten in the past. It consisted of strips of beef, with plenty of bean sprouts, some cucumber, red onion and a bit of chilli. The salad was served with a fish sauce dressing. It was ok, but left me disappointed - as with my entree, if the flavours had been tweaked a bit, it could have been much better.

Our other main was the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. Unfortunately when it came to vegetarian options, the menu was very limited. There were only three dishes listed on the menu under the "Vegetable" section. We asked the waitress if there was anything else, but were told that the three dishes were it. As good as the Chinese broccoli was, it's a bit hard to eat an entire plate of it.

Service was ok on the night we were there. Our bottle of riesling sat on the table for the whole meal, with no coolers in sight. A bit more friendliness and attention to customers would greatly improve the service at Pho Saigon.

Pho Saigon is licenced, with a limited selection of wine. Alternatively it's also BYO wine, with a bottle shop not far away.

Overall, our meals at Pho Saigon were ok. The pricing of the meals though makes Pho Saigon very good value, especially considering you can bring your own wine. If you're staying at the Gold Coast and looking for some good Vietnamese food, I think you'll find The Rice Paddy in Surfers Paradise a definite a step up in flavour.

What does all this mean? Solid Vietnamese food at good prices, with BYO wine.

food bling ratings
Food - OK
Service - OK
Ambience - Casual, with seating inside and out
Value for Money - Good
Wine - Licenced (a limited list) and BYO wine
Vegetarian - Very limited options

Pho Saigon
Shop 17B, Aria
Albert Avenue
Broadbeach 4218
P - 07 5592 3393
F - 07 5592 3340

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