“What the Fearless Critic books and apps have that UrbanSpoon and Yelp don’t is a complete lack of bullshit.”
“I’ve spent years driving around with Zagat...but I think I’ll replace it with this Fearless Critic guide.”
–Leslie Brenner,
Dallas Morning News
Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Mon–Fri 11:00am–10:00pm
Sat–Sun 11:00am–11:00pm

Features Outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Arlington, VA
1101 S. Joyce St.
Arlington, VA
(703) 412-0822
Saigon Saigon
Superb pho to be eaten with all the tourists

It’s easy enough to be put off by Saigon Saigon’s Pentagon City mall location. The restaurant sits just beyond the spot where tour buses offload, spilling their captive sightseers into the cornucopia of Pentagon City to cap off a day of touring with The Gap and food-court meals.

Thankfully, Saigon Saigon is not actually within the mall but beside it, thus saving it from this bustle of visiting humanity. It still sits smack between Sur la Table and Chico’s in the more upscale “Pentagon Row” section behind the mall, but after just a few seconds in the palm-and-fountain-filled dining room, you can, at least temporarily, forget this fact.

And Saigon’s amazing pho abets this erstwhile memory loss. Its broth is rich enough that a sip tastes almost like biting into a strip of the beef itself, and the meat comes in razor-thin slices, along with ample noodles, vegetables, and a separate plate of bean sprouts, Thai basil, and sauces for topping.

Bargain hunters will be tempted by Saigon’s pricing scheme: the “large” pho is only a dollar more than the “small.” But be forewarned: the portions here are enormous. A small could easily feed two people (or one very hungry person), and finishing off the large in one sitting is unfathomable for all but the most jaded of professional eating champions.

Saigon is a wonderful instance of a non-dive Vietnamese restaurant that serves an earnest pho while maintaining an upscale menu of meat and seafood dishes. That said, the remainder of the menu has trouble living up to the superior soup. A gingered salmon is a rather quotidian take on a rather quotidian fish. The sautéed vegetables are delightfully crisped and the vermicelli noodles are properly cooked, but somehow the combination amounts to significantly less than the sum of its parts. Saigon could push itself to go beyond the risk-free (and under-spiced) options so typical of spots where people “do lunch.” But maybe they don’t have to. If the tourists don’t keep you out, the pho alone will bring you back.

Be the first to leave a comment…