Reliable Vietnamese, Thai dishes at Saigon

Restaurant provides wide variety of favorites

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Dining Out review: Saigon Restaurant

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Where: 3021 N.E. 72nd Drive, Vancouver.

Contact: 360-944-8338 or Facebook

Health score: Saigon Restaurant received a score of 20 on May 5. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.

Why: Saigon Restaurant is among the longer established Vietnamese and Thai cuisine restaurants in Clark County. The casual dining stop serves up soup, noodle and rice dishes for lunch and dinner six days a week.

What I tried: I tried the salad roll appetizers, the chicken soup and the barbecue pork over vermicelli noodles.

The salad roll appetizers were served immediately after I ordered. They had been pre-made, which caused the wrap to be slightly rubbery because it was somewhat drier than if the rolls had been freshly made. The appetizer portion may be ordered in a two- or four-roll size. Each roll was approximately 5 to 6 inches long and filled with shrimp, pork, sprouts and vermicelli noodles. Sweet, housemade peanut sauce topped with crushed peanuts was served alongside for dipping. The consistency and quality reminded me of the ones available at Fred Meyer.

The soup was piping hot. Made up mostly of a delicious, salty broth, the soup also contained small bits of chicken, sun-dried tomato and cilantro. I liked its light presence and it made a good, pre-entree impression.

The barbecue pork entree was layered in a large bowl — the bottom layer was shredded iceberg lettuce and chopped cucumber followed by a layer of vermicelli noodles and topped with thin, bite-sized pieces of glazed barbecue pork garnished with cilantro and shredded carrots. The result was an appetizing entree which was a pleasant balance of protein, starch, and vegetables. The glaze on the pork was sweet with a hint of garlic and the meat was mostly very lean. The dish was served with a small bowl of sweet chili sauce which had a slight fish flavor to it. I opted to omit the sauce and enjoyed the dish without it.

Atmosphere: Located in a strip mall, windows are at the front of the carpeted, rectangular space and tables and stackable, conference-style chairs set for two to six fill in the dining area, with the kitchen in the rear. Tailored drapes dress up the windows. The walls are trimmed with wood-paneled wainscot below the chair rail and various art decor items, including wood carvings and paintings, are displayed above on the ivory-painted walls. Basic, Tiffany-style pendant lamps add light beyond the natural light allowed in by the windows.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Appetizers include spring rolls, fried wontons, vegetarian salad rolls and shredded pork rolls. Among the fried rice lunch options is beef, pork, shrimp, chicken and egg foo young. Steamed rice is combined with broccoli and beef, lemongrass chicken, pork chop and sliced pork and egg foo young. The dinner menu is more expansive, with a bulk of noodle soups, chow mein noodle dishes, vermicelli noodle dishes, vegetarian dishes, beef, chicken, pork and seafood dishes. Beverages include wine and Coke products.

Other observations: The waitstaff was polite, the atmosphere was quaint and the food was just what I expected. Take-out is available.

Cost: Appetizers at lunch cost $3.50 to $6.95. Fried rice and steamed dishes are $6.25. Dinner options range from $6.95 to $12.95.