Atlantic City Raises the Bar!

Little Saigon

Surprised? I sure am. I didn't realize the best Pho I've ever had would be in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I'm not kidding. This place was excellent. Don't believe me? Ask Vanessa as she generally doesn't enjoy Viet cuisine, but even she raved about how great her meal was, so you know it has to be that good!

Vanessa the Beautiful

When we first arrived at Little Saigon, aside from the owner working his laptop on the far table, we were the only ones in the place. I love the hole-in-the-wall Viet restaurants. They're much more cozy and hospitable. Owner seated us immediately and we couldn't help notice the numerous awards on the wall for their outstanding food.

Owner

Little Saigon Awards

Another thing I can't believe is my willingness to venture outside the realm of Pho Ga. Maybe I needed the right setting to do so, so I pulled the trigger on the Pho Tai, something I had yet to experience. What an amazing experience indeed!

Pho Tai

The first thing I noticed about the Pho Tai was the broth. It looked very dark, rich and full of flavor. The garnishes were also extremely fresh. Always look to the sprouts for freshness level as they won't lie. If they're pure white and firm, you can bank on freshness.

As I took my first bite, the flavor of the broth danced with my tastebuds like two strangers doing the tango. Amazing! It WAS rich and full of flavor. I can't put my finger on why the broth was so unique. Could they have used extra oil? Was there butter in the mix? Who knows, but indeed this was the best broth I've ever had!

Since this was my first experience with beef Pho, I don't really have anything to compare it too. All I can say is the meat was medium-rare and tasted great. Maybe I'm a converted man now and will start ordering this more often. I just hope having the best as my first won't corrupt my taste for Pho Tai at other restaurants.

The owner came over to check on us and asked "Do you eat a lot of Vietnamese soups? You look like you know what you're doing by the way you eat." You could say this added to my already big ego. Hahahaha. Really fun stuff.

After we finished eating, we said our farewells, paid our compliments and hit the road.

Here's the scoop:

February 16th, 2009

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Pho Tai

  • Pho noodle: (5/5)
  • Soup stock: (5/5)
  • Meats: (5/5)
  • Garnishes* freshness: (5/5)
  • Price: Baseline ($5-6), no extra points or deductions
  • Extra Points: 4 for outstanding Pho, freshness, environment, staff
  • Total Points: 24

* No points for expected garnishes of sprouts, Thai basil, lime and chiles.

Little Saigon
2801 Arctic Ave
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
(609) 347-9119

9 comments

  1. Cuong 17 February, 2009 at 09:32 Reply

    Wow Tim! I’m totally impressed! What’s next, some tripe?

    Did you just snap away with your camera as you walked in the restaurant? Ha ha The owner must have thought you’re some kind of reporter doing a review of his place.

    So you did notice a difference in the broth? They’re supposed to be different. Although I don’t eat pho ga all that much, my wife says it’s got to be chicken broth and not just the regular beef broth (she has pho ga every time she gets).

    And what’s with the hole in the sign? Rough neighborhood, or people losing money in Atlantic City?

    But the real question is: did you work up to this life changing experience, or was it on the spur of the moment?

  2. Josh 25 October, 2009 at 04:07 Reply

    I would agree that the food was great bec I tried it once. The only problem I had was I think the beef was raw in the soup so we kind of not really eat it much but we took it home and cooked it again.
    During that first experience, I came in with a our laundry bag in a cart right after we did laundry. It was like morning so there was really no customer yet. So we set our small laundry cart by our table and try to call the waiter. The waiter was not that friendly. It was a bit hard to make him come to us. They are located right across the laundry and it could have been convenient for me and my mom to just eat there right after laundry. We were wearing proper presentable clothes and shoes. I am a college graduate and work in the hospital. My mom is retired and I take care of her. But it seemed the lone waiter did not like us. I just shrugged it off maybe bec that was his natural attitude and that it really not meant against us. One of the nice customer even stood up and thought of helping us with the cart on our way out. The next time we tried it there were people already from the casinos (employees) who were there. So we sit ourselves on the table as before but since we notice the place starting to fill, we decided to just take out. So although it was still difficult to get his attention as he was busy with the others, we manage to make him look our way. But I guess he recognized us as before. After some time he came with hot tea, I right away told him that we are taking out what we are ordering. He frowned and left with the tea. I waited patiently and tried to observe his attitude toward us. I notice he would smile at the other tables. There are still empty tables although the place is small so I don’t think we were in the way or something. My mom is old and would not want her to stand waiting while we wait for them to cook our order. He finished everyone else and we still waited. Until finally he is now setting empty tables but the place is really small so I have no doubt he can hear me. So I waited for him to pass by our table and like tried to show him what i like in the menu. He just frowned at me and continued walking back to the cash register. The other table customers saw it and smiled at me with wondering look. I look at ourselves and think is there something wrong with us? Until I felt too embarass bec people started looking at us and even though we are hungry I just asked my mom for us to leave. And we never came back ever.
    I do would credit the restaurant for their fine food. It’s just so bad we now had to go to Ventnor just to find a more friendlier maybe to just us to be able to eat very good Vietnamese food which for me are very healthy and I would recommend that place anytime. I think it’s just probably how we look or bec of the laundry cart.

  3. Cuong Huynh 25 October, 2009 at 12:04 Reply

    Hi Josh,

    Too bad you had to go through such bad experience. There are individuals who do have attitude problems, surprisingly even in the service profession. I know you mentioned your look several times, so it sounds like you are conscious about it. But regardless, they shouldn’t have treated you and your mom that way.

    A couple of tips. With respect to the raw beef: if it was the rare beef pho option, then all you needed to do was to let the beef cook in the broth. That’s how it’s normally done. With respect to the take out: if this is your intent from the beginning, then you should just go straight to the counter and tell them you want take-out. Then of course you can sit at one of the empty tables to wait. Otherwise is you sit at a table, people would think you’re eating in. But this is only a minor point and you shouldn’t have been treated as you described.

    I’m glad you found a different place that appreciates your business. Not quite sure what “tiny” means ?? 😕

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