After four weeks of eating food from restaurants in the South and West Metro (from House of Curry, Grand Szechuan, Pho Valley and Godavari), we finally made it back to St. Paul this weekend. Not surprisingly, we ended up on University Ave.—the Twin Cities’ true “Eat Street”—not too far from Homi, our last port of call in St. Paul. It was another Vietnamese meal, this time from iPho by Saigon. As it happens my very first meal in Minnesota was here when I visited friends in the November of 2006—it was then called just Saigon. We ate there after we moved here the following year as well but somehow not since I started reviewing restaurants on the blog. I’m not sure at what point they tacked on the “iPho by” to their name but it’s been several years. We’ve been tempted over the years but somehow when looking for Vietnamese food in that neck of the woods we usually end up at Trieu Chau. This weekend, however, was iPho by Saigon. How did it go?
We’d spent a couple of hours that morning walking around the Indian Mounds park with good friends and at the end of the walk we called in orders at iPho, picked up the food and took it back to their backyard. Coincidentally, these are the same friends I’d visited Saigon with in 2006 (“Fascinating!”, Ed.). The restaurant—which is opened for socially-distanced dining in—has been spruced up quite a bit since my last visit (whenever the hell that was). There were quite a few people eating in when we stopped in and also quite a few picking up food as we were.
What did we get?
Our friends got the following: the spring rolls with shrimp and roast pork; the fried chicken wings from the appetizers section; a banh mi with grilled meatballs; and stir-fried rice noodles with roast pork. Of these three got good reviews with only the chicken wings disappointing. The teenager who ate most of them said they were too hard and the soy sauce dressing they were tossed in too sweet. We got the following: the spring rolls with pork skin; the regular banh mi; the special combination pho; the bun bo hue; and a rice plate each for the boys, one with grilled pork and one with grilled shrimp. The standout, I thought, was my banh mi. I’d asked for it with extra pate and it was very good indeed. The spring rolls too were very good. The missus thought her pho broth was a bit blah and I had to agree. And, my bun bo hue, while tasty enough, seemed like it was the pho broth with some heat added to it. For all I know, this is a normal variant but I do prefer the renditions with earthier, funkier soups (as at Simplee Pho in Apple Valley, for example, and especially as at Pho 79 in Minneapolis).
For a look at the restaurant and what we ate, please launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.
Oh, prices are a steal for the quantity and quality. I ate half my banh mi and half the bun bo hue at lunch that day and the rest made a good lunch the next day. For a place with “pho” in its name, I have to say I think the banh mi is the reason to go. I look forward to trying more of their variants in the future.
Next up: probably another Indian meal from the West Metro this weekend—we’re planning to go walk around a park in Eden Prairie this time.