Little Saigon: Disappointing

Remember Blue Ginger? It was a disaster that claimed to serve Vietnamese food, while actually dishing out food that was somewhat reminiscent of Vietnam, in the usual 5-star tradition of trying to please everyone. After it (thankfully) shut down, the chef there opened up Little Saigon, in Hauz Khas market about 2 years ago. I’ve wanted to visit ever since, but never got around to it.

We visited last weekend and aren’t likely to visit again, nor recommend it to you.

Food

Veg Noodle Salad (255). Excellent. Though they assumed that non-vegetarians won’t order a vegetable salad and had already added soya sauce to it, instead of the fish sauce I would have liked.

Chicken Pho (300). Below Average. Came in a borosil bowl, very weak stock with the abundance of cloves within overpowering everything else. Included rice noodles, vegetables and a meagre amount of shredded, boiled chicken without flavour.

Banh Mi (485). Absolute rubbish. The chef recommended this and I should have checked the price before ordering. While the bread was excellent (amazing, really – soft inside, beautifully crusty outside), this wasn’t anything like the Banh Mi one expects. There was literally a tablespoon or so of vegetable filling in a 5 inch baguette. with perhaps a teaspoon or two of over salted pork. Quite a rip off, when one considers the Subway a few steps away would have delivered far more value and flavour in far less. Yes, I’m comparing a Subway to a restaurant – that’s how bad it was.

Banh Mi: The baguette was excellent, though the whole was over priced and under whelming. This was the chef’s recommendation.

Roast Pork Belly (540). Low quality and inedible. If I’m to pay 540 rupees in a 14 cover restaurant for a portion of pork belly, I’d like better quality or better cooking please. We were served over-salted, flabby, unpressed pork belly with nothing to redeem it.

The roast pork belly was flabby, over-salted, over priced and close to inedible.

Sticky Rice (80). Good, but a tiny portion. The rice was ordered to accompany the pork and it was nice, though about 3 tablespoons in all.

Service

The lone waiter was on his phone most of the time, looking up to answer any questions (on the second or third try) and then going back to his phone. He didn’t have much English or Hindi, ignoring anything he didn’t understand, returning to his phone when in doubt.

The chef/owner was condescending, disruptive and uncooperative to the point of rudeness. She objected to everything including the order, which I had to finally insist upon. There may have been language/communication issues behind this. It is also possible she was fed-up of customers complaining after order delivery.

Every dish came separately and not as ordered, effectively ruining the meal.

I didn’t leave a tip, a departure from my usual practice of 15%.

Interiors

14 covers with no thought towards ergonomics, comfort, utility or indeed anything other than cramming 14 covers in there.

Give me a small, cramped restaurant with horrible service, an overpriced menu, a rude chef and great food and I’ll kiss his/her hands and gratefully eat whatever they slam upon my table.

Little Saigon serves food that’s not only nothing close to what it is supposed to represent, but is badly cooked too, along with severely deficient service, grumpy attitudes, cramped interiors and an overpriced menu. I suggest staying away or if you’ve been to Vietnam, try their menu once. It’ll be cheaper than stand up comedy for the family.

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.