Saigon Bistro, Concord

by foodhoe on February 11, 2010

1701-F Willow Pass Rd. Concord, CA 94520 | 925.827.1231  | website | Mon-Sat: 10 am – 9 pm; Sun: 10 am – 8 pm

Saigon Bistro is tucked into the Park ‘n Shop strip mall, close to Fry’s Electronics, where technology geeks such as us like to wander through in an attempt to work off some of our mighty lunches.  We began to visit more often, once the winter temperatures began to drop because this is the place to go for Vietnamese noodle soups in Coco county.  The interior is modern with brightly painted walls and numerous flat panel televisions mounted on the walls playing sports channels for the most part.  The prices are a bit on the high end, but the restaurant is clean, service is fast and friendly and you can get free refills from the serve yourself soda machine.

I love to order Phở Tái Gân, sliced steak with tendon ($6.95).  The broth is clean and agreeable with a liberal dose of cilantro and green onions.  It’s a straightforward broth that needs brightening up with a squirt of Sriracha and hoisin, but is very satisfying.

The pieces of tendon are large but tender, melting in your mouth and coating your tastebuds with fatty bovine bliss.

Each bowl comes with an individual small plate of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, a juicy wedge of lime and jalapeno slices.

I had the Phở Gà, chicken noodle soup, which was the least exciting dish that I tried there.  It really couldn’t compare with the bowl we had at Turtle Tower or the dazzling ginger scallion sauce that we enjoyed drizzled in our bowls at Phở Gà Huong Que Cafe.

Chris had the Seafood Noodle Soup ($7.95) which is a combination of fishballs, calamari,shrimp and sliced fishcake served with a chicken broth.

I was pleased to see that they had Bun Rieu ($8.95) on the menu, which is a dish that I think sounds wonderful but still haven’t found the bowl.  The soup had some chopped tomato and sparkled with small globules of fluorescent orange chili oil but was a bit on the bland side.  I first read about this dish when Kirk described it on mmm-yoso!!! and drooled over the homemade version that Ravenous Couple made recently and yet, still find myself on the prowl to find a good bowl here in NoCal…  suggestions anybody?

This was served with the requisite pile of vegetables, including thinly sliced cabbage.

The pork blood cubes were a little bit stiff and grainy, and I’m still not too keen about the metallic flavor.

They also have Bánh xèo on the menu ($8.95), which I’ve had before and know as Vietnamese Crepe.  It’s a huge thing, a large half moon pancake made from a mixture of rice flour, water and turmeric powder, stuffed with slivers of pork, shrimp and bean sprouts and pan fried until it is deliciously crisp on the outside. It’s served with a pile of lettuce leaves and fresh herbs, pickled radish and carrots.  The bowl of the zesty nuoc cham fish sauce interacts most deliciously with the crispy pancake and fresh veggies.

I loved how the plump shrimps were embedded deeply into the delicately browned pancake, which was folded over and filled with crunchy fresh bean sprouts.

I broke off a crispy bit of the crepe and rolled it up in the lettuce leaf along with some pickles and fresh herbs, then drizzled it with the nuoc cham which really made for a mouth watering combination of flavor and textures.

Dustin got gorgeous rolls of Grilled Beef over Rice ($7.25).  The beef was artfully rolled around slivers of grilled onion and topped with lightly sauteed green onions.

Chris ordered it in combination with imperial rolls and topped with a fried egg ($8.50).  This looked like a very good plate of food.

Another favorite is the Vermicelli bowl with grilled pork and imperial rolls ($7.95), which was topped with chopped peanuts, pickled carrots and daikon and chopped fresh herbs.  At the bottom of the bowl is a layer of thinly sliced lettuce and beansprouts which adds a crisp fresh element to the dish, especially when mixed up with the nuoc cham sauce. This is one of my favorite dishes during the warmer weather months.

Vic tried a couple of sandwiches. The Bánh Mì Thịt Nguội, Ham Pate, headcheese ($4.50) looked like it was well proportioned and slathered with butter, pate and mayo.

He also had the Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng, Grilled Pork ($4.50) sandwich, which comes stuffed with pickled and fresh vegetables, fresh herbs and slices of jalapeno.

By the entrance is an exploding cymbidium orchid plant that is real, I checked… another nice touch.  I’m continually surprised by the variety and quality of ethnic foods out here in the farther reaches of the East Bay and this is solidly in the lunchtime rotation.

Saigon Bistro on Urbanspoon

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa February 12, 2010 at 3:31 am

You are making me hungry! What appealing crêpe, sandwich and vermicelli bowl

Cheers,

Rosa

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Cookie February 12, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I LOVE a good hot bowl of Pho but couldn’t really tell you where to get the best ones. I think they’re just all good to me! I still can’t get over the chunks of blood though but everything else looks great!
.-= Cookie´s last blog ..A Plate full of LOVE! =-.

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Bonnibella February 12, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I never had luck finding a good bowl of Bun Rieu at a restaurant but it’s so easy to make at home and the results are much better Ravenous couple’s version is good which remind me I should post my version soon.
.-= Bonnibella´s last blog ..Campfire S’more…Cupcakes at Kara’s in San Francisco =-.

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grace February 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

any place that serves its dishes with a side of jalapenos, lime, and cilantro is okay by me!
.-= grace´s last blog ..a different kind of cake =-.

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hungry dog February 12, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Everything sounds wonderful (except maybe that pork blood cube…can’t get on board with that!) You’re discovering such great places–wish I had such wonderful lunch options. And your photos are better than ever.
.-= hungry dog´s last blog ..Sweet pea risotto with scallops =-.

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Sam (Healthy Lunch Ideas) February 13, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Oo, I love Bánh xèo – I get the Cambodian version in the city at Angkor Borei for $6.95 – one of the best food deals in SF. Also conveniently located three blocks from my house….

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foodhoe February 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Rosa, me too!
Cookie, I like this place the best in the area so far, and probably will stay away from those cubes in the future!
bonnibella, I’m looking forward to reading your recipe
grace, I’m with you
hungry dog, thank you!
Sam, lucky you… I’ll put that on my list of places to try.

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Single Guy Ben February 14, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I’m still looking for a good bun rieu too. The one at Pho Loa Hoa in Oakland Chinatown was not bad. I thought it was interesting how they rolled the beef with sauteed onions like that, how cool. And I love vermicelli bowls too, but I don’t really spray all that siracha on top!
.-= Single Guy Ben´s last blog ..Food From the Heart Then to the Stomach =-.

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Livin Local February 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

After wandering endlessly through the marvelous aisles at Fry’s, its always fun to try one of the many strip mall restaurants right there. This is on my short list now.
.-= Livin Local´s last blog ..Brined Roasted Chicken =-.

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Gastronomer February 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm

This joint looks SOLID! So glad you’re eating well in Concord!
.-= Gastronomer´s last blog ..LA Street Food Fest =-.

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Lunch Recipes Girl July 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Your pictures are making me hungry!! The one I like the most is the Vermicelli bowl with grilled pork and imperial rolls. The one thing I notice in these plates is the color in the food that is added with the vegetables. Something to remember the next time I cook something.

Thanks for an appetizing post,
Lunch Recipes Girl

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