The original plan for last weekend had been to drive up to St. Paul for a walk and pick up either Cambodian or Ethiopian takeout from one of our favourite places on/off University Ave. But things didn’t quite pan out that way. Instead I went a little closer to home: to Saigon Deli in Burnsville. This is the restaurant attached to the Saigon Market. We have not yet eaten there. We used to shop regularly at Saigon Market when they were located in Eagan, a hop, skip and a jump from The Cellars. A few years ago they moved to their new digs on Highway 13 in Burnsville. I’d made a few forays to check out the new space at its scheduled opening but it took them quite a while longer to actually get going and by the time that happened they had completely slid off my radar. I have to thank my friend Pierre therefore for mentioning the store in an email last week. I finally stopped in and picked up a bunch of frozen fish and quite a bit of food from the restaurant.
I’ll have a look at the store itself—much larger and much shinier than the original—later this week (probably). For now, just the takeout. The restaurant, which you can enter through its own door, or from the market—there’s no hard separation between them—is called Saigon Deli on their website but the physical menu confusingly says Pho 45. I’d guess they originally opened under that name and changed at some point. The physical menu is also quite a bit larger than the menu on their website, listing not only the complement of generic American Chinese dishes that all Vietnamese restaurants in at least the South Metro are compelled to offer, but also more Vietnamese offerings than are listed on the website menu. I’d recommend using my pictures of the menu in the slideshow below when you call to order your own takeout.
And you certainly should call to order some takeout. Almost everything we got was best in class in the South Metro. What did we get?
- Vietnamese spring rolls with shrimp and pork. Good but not very far out of the ordinary.
- Egg rolls. Also good but would of course have been better fresh than heated up in a toaster oven after coming home. This is not their problem.
- Thai-style papaya salad. As good as any at the better Thai places in St. Paul.
- House combo rice platter. This comes with a pork chop, pork skin and pork loaf. The boys loved this.
- Grilled pork rice platter. The boys loved this too.
- Special pho. The one with everything in it. The broth was very good; the best, I’d say, that we’ve had in the South Metro.
- Bun Bo Hue. Also best in class. I got it with the extra pork hock. When you order it you will be asked if you want it with the pork blood cubes. The correct answer is “yes”.
- We also got a couple of banh mi. We ate these for lunch the next day and even after being reheated in the toaster oven to crisp the bread back up both were excellent. One was with grilled pork, the other with ham and pork roll; both with extra paté. Up there with the banh mi from iPho in St. Paul.
For a lot of pictures, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for cost, more thoughts, and to see what might be coming next.
I had ordered from the website menu and am now looking forward to trying some of the things not on it, such as the bo luc lac (shaking beef). The food was really very good and I’m kicking myself for not seeking them out a while ago. The cost was very fair too and on par with the combination. With a big tip we paid $96 and considering we got two full meals for the four of us out of it I’d say that was a very good deal.
Okay, what’s next? Weather-permitting, we’ll do a longer excursion this weekend. The missus and I would like Cambodian but the boys are insistent on tandoori chicken and naan every other week. Alas, this requirement also rules out all the Nepali places recommended in the comments on my Hyderabad House review last week. My guess is we will go back to either Bawarchi or Indian Masala. Let’s see how it goes.