Living in London I've pretty much given up the hope of finding cheap, tasty Asian food. What I took for granted in Melbourne, I certainly miss now.
To date, most of my Asian dining here has been pretty dismal - most places are tourist traps.
So with much surprise and delight when Ms G took me to one of her regular haunts in Greenwich.
Saigon is a Chinese/Thai/Vietmanese/Japanese restaurant. For a little while it held a special place in my list of favourties - it was the only place where you could have a dine-in meal for less than 5 pounds (4.80 pounds for most dishes).
Recently, due to GFC, the crappy UK economy and increasing VAT, prices at Saigon has reached the dizzying heights for 5.60 pounds per main dish...outrageous!
Here are some photos of the dishes that we order regularly.
Salt and pepper squid for entrees. Crispy, big serving and always the oil hasn't been re-used too many times. The batter is thin and light. Needless to say, we always order this one. I've also ordered the s&p eggplant. That's also very morish but you can't beat the squid.
Spring rolls. They're average in quality. Vermicelli, pork, cabbage and carrot inside. It's served with a slightly dodgy looking bowl of nuoc cham, which I avoided.
Beef ho fun. A big pile of slippery rice noodles. Lots of thin slices of beef, scrambled egg and beanshoots. Love it! Not too greasy, considering how greasy this dish could be.
Beef pho. Not 100% authentic. The soup base is slightly MSG-ed. But good enough to sate an appetite (...Ha Long Bay in Richmond, how I miss you!). It was served with a small plate of the usual beanshoots, mint, basil, lemon and chilli. I've also had the wonton noodle soup which I prefer. The wontons taste homemade and pretty generous in numbers, too.
For drinks, I tend to order the freshly squeezed juices. There's a limited range of Asian beers and sweet drinks. The Lawyer once ordered the red bean drink. That was below average. Red beans in a somewhat watered down coconut base.
And being greedy pigs, we ordered the Singaporean fried noodles for takeaway. A generous serving of rice noodles, mixed meats (cha siu, roast duck, chicken), eggs and veg. Delish.
Saigon is the closest I'm going to get to cheap, generous serves of above average quality Asian food in London. They don't skimp on ingredients. Having said that, it does certain dishes better than others.
Saigon is clean and comfortable. Unlike most good-value Asian places, the tables aren't squished up against each other. Service is overall pretty good, although some of the staff are more friendly than others.
May it live long and prosper!
16 Nelson Road
Greenwich SE10 9JB
Telephone: 020 8853 8288