Little Saigon Big Bangkok has been showered with praises by blogs and mouths. It is time (after putting it off for so many months) a bunch of us (taking someone's advice to best go there in a group) see and taste what the furor is all about.
Little Saigon Big Bangkok Fresh Asian Street Food. Fresh Asian street food. It is street food eaten not on the street (the closest to it being on the street is their al fresco area with the dust and exhaust filtered by a bamboo fence) and paid for in a not so street price (up to five times the street price).
You may dine al fresco or indoors
But we are nowhere near the streets of Saigon and Bangkok and there's nothing else to do but direct our attention to the staff and his big menu board while trying to avert our eyes from the prices, at the same time throwing questions his way (good for how many persons? spicy? what kind of fish? what's your bestseller?) and mentally trying to count the money we have in our pocket.
Except for six items on the menu, everything's Php 250 and above
The answers to the first two questions above I remember. Their portions, according to the guy giving us a crash course on their food, are good for two to three persons, except for the bun cha (good for one to two only). The dishes are spicy except for the chicken rendang, but there are dishes that can be served mild or have the chilies on the side.
After a short conference with ten other empty stomachs, we got pitchers of their herbal iced tea (sorry, no photo) and these:
Tom yum goong
Pho bo (chilies on the side for the benefit of those who do not like spicy food)
Beef banh mi
Seafood fried rice
Hanoi grilled pork
The good news: Everything was delicious. Pad thai was almost almost like the real thing. The veggies on the Hanoi grilled pork were tasty and cooked just right. The pork was tender. And the chicken rendang (yes, I remember now, it's one of their bestsellers) absolutely beat all the other dishes we had that night. The tom yum goong and seafood fried rice looked like it could feed up to five persons with regular appetites.
The bad news: Yes, we found everything delicious, but for familiar dishes, we cannot help but compare. The tom yum goong was okay, though I've had better. The pho bo was quite different from what I have tried in Vietnam. This one tasted pochero-ish to me. It lacked all the zing from the herbs and spices. Their banh mi was very different from the ones peddled on the streets of Vietnam (I think it's missing the Vietnamese ham and the germy hands that made them, the latter is, of course, good news). Its taste reminded me of a steak sandwich. There was more vegetables than pork in their Hanoi grilled pork. The herbal iced tea? Watery lemongrass. The lemongrass tea from Shanti Shala Yoga has more of a kick to it.
Conclusion: I call this place, Little Serving Big Budget --- for its price, I would expect more on the plate! But maybe it's just my cheapo self talking. If you are budget conscious, do not order without asking for the price. (The price of the drink gave us a surprise, it was Php 200 for a pitcher.) Do not take my comments to heart. Leave your expectations behind, bring a stuffed wallet and an empty stomach, and enjoy the food.
Little Saigon Big Bangkok
Andres Abellana Ext. Guadalupe, Cebu City
(Near Guadalupe barangay hall, and right next to Racdaes Japanese Language School)
(032) 415 0228 / 0917 311 9859
Daily 12PM to 10PM
How Big Bangkok busted Mustachio's budget:
Each of the dishes we ordered costs Php 250. The pitcher of herbal iced tea costs Php 200. 10 dishes, 2 pitchers of iced tea, 7 cups of plain rice (Php 20 per) to feed 11 persons. Total bill? (Drum roll please.) Php 3,344 (including 10% service charge.) That's Php 304 per person. Ouch.