When most people think of Vietnam, they think of war, Nixon, and hippies. FOOD ADVENTURES, however, immediately think of food. In 1980, a few years after Communism took over Vietnam, Little Saigon’s owner fled to the United States. She jumped into a crowded boat with 85 other people and sailed for 12 days with little food or water until arriving in a free area of the Philippines and eventually to America. Her name is Nga, pronounced “na,” and she is running the family owned restaurant that her sister started 19 years ago. We are blessed to have her fine cooking in the Dayton area.
Recently, Little Saigon did some interior design changes. No longer haunted by the scary restrooms, we now enjoy the newly remodeled restaurant atmosphere. The outside appearance of the restaurant, at 1718 Woodman Drive in Kettering, leaves a lot to be desired, but the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” applies here.
Vietnamese food is mostly known for being healthy and for fresh ingredients. The options at Little Saigon stay true to this philosophy. The menu stays true to terrific taste as well. For you vegetarians out there, Little Saigon’s menu has 2 pages filled with vegetarian options.
Your Food Adventurers love the appetizers at Little Saigon. We are currently addicted to the simple, yet perfect, soft shrimp roll. This menu item is pretty much an egg roll with a burrito type sea through wrapper. Inside the roll are vermicelli noodles, shrimp, pork, lettuce and cilantro. The soft shrimp rolls are served with an addicting brown peanut sauce that is like a hoisin sauce. Ragu loves this sauce so much he wanted to order a glass of it to drink. Our other favorite appetizer is the combo platter for two, which has a lemongrass pork kabobs, spring rolls, butterfly chicken, and shrimp cakes. We were completely blown away by this plate.
Little Saigon’s menu has a page of typical Chinese Food entrees, but we recommend you stick to the other pages of Vietnamese menu items. One of the attractions at Little Saigon is their “Pho,” or meal sized soups. These soups may be ordered with various meats, and most come with vegetables. You also get to choose the type of noodle you want from the traditional egg noodles and vermicelli noodles, to the more advanced and strange clear rice noodles that are as thick as a pencil. We love the thick rice noodles, but love the egg noodles as well (thinner like angel hair). The prices are right too, with many dinner soups ranging from $6.50 to $8. Great meals, great deals. We would recommend two special soups. First, the duck noodle soup. We were so impressed with the duck meat, that it quickly became a favorite dish.
The duck was very flavorful, and the egg noodles in the good, clear broth make your taste buds dance. The bowl of soup is so big that most can not finish it. The other special to try is the shrimp and pork soup with rice noodles. It is healthy, flavorful and very filling.
There are also meal sized bowls of noodles with vegetables on the menu that are not soups. These bowls have bean sprouts and lettuce covered by noodles, then topped with your choice of meat and sauteed onions. Ragu loves these, especially the lemongrass shrimp with vermicelli. He indulges on the vegetarian spring rolls over vermicelli as well.
This place is truly a gem. There are lots of options and the choices encompass over 200 menu items. Do you want some good, fresh, unique food at one of the rare Vietnamese restaurants in the Dayton area? Then you have to go on your own Food Adventure to Little Saigon, “Pho”-sure!
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