On Sunday morning I woke up with a pretty awful head cold. The left side of my face was stuffed beyond belief and I later determined that the only way to fix this problem would be to down some soup loaded with Sriracha. Being that I eat too much prepared soup already throughout the week at work, I thought it would be a great idea to head out to a local restaurant to get some pho. After searching around a bit on the web I found a few South Metro restaurants with pho but only one which had other menu items which would work for The Wife and was open on Sunday. Thus at about 11:30 we were off to try Saigon Palace in Burnsville for some pho and banh mi.
We arrived just before noon and found only one other table occupied. The restaurant itself is a cluttered mess with entirely too much going on. From the very random assorted metal Budweiser bottles high up on the walls to the 20 or so fish tanks, many with Buddhist statues in the middle, I spent a good bit of time taking it all in. Our very friendly server gave us our menus and we had a look see.
The menu is fairly extensive and offers numerous Vietnamese dishes coupled with a few Americanized Chinese dishes as well. I knew before I walked in the door that I wanted pho and banh mi and The Wife wanted Chinese but we settled on more specific items once we had the menus in hand. We ordered some Vietnamese Crispy Egg Rolls ($4.25) for The Rooster who had a variety of stuff brought from home to tide him over, a Grilled Pork Banh Mi ($4.25) and a “large” Special Pho ($8.25) for me and finally some Chicken Lo Mein ($9.25) for The Wife. While I was there mostly for the pho, I was particularly interested in trying their banh mi. Unfortunately after ordering I was informed they were out of banh mi and with nothing else really catching my fancy, I placed an order for their eight Fried Chicken Wings ($5.25) instead.
Eventually our orders came out and everything was delivered to the table. The Rooster’s Vietnamese Crispy Egg Rolls were surprisingly good. Golden brown and crisp, the insides were stuffed with a ton of pork and definitely weren’t soggy with oil. The eggrolls had a nice flavor and I thoroughly enjoyed them. The dipping sauce was a very light sweet and sour somewhat reminiscent of what you’ll find on the Vellee Deli food truck. While I thought they were great, The Wife seemed to think they weren’t anything special although she did continue to eat them later without complaint.
The Crispy Chicken Wings were of a decent size although there weren’t eight as described on the menu. There was absolutely nothing special here except that if they had served as many as promised they would have been a great deal and I might have ordered them again in the future just to douse them in my own homemade Buffalo sauce and save myself a ton of cash.
The Wife’s Chicken Lo Mein was a huge portion for $9.25 but was basically chicken and noodles. Nothing at all fancy here and honestly it didn’t have much flavor. While I don’t particularly care for Americanized Chinese dishes myself, I suppose in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t as terrible as the stuff you’re likely to find at the majority of other Chinese restaurants around town and if I was forced to, I’d definitely eat that again of any of those. However, The Wife was not a fan as she definitely prefers the saucy and goopy nastiness you normally find at the Leeann Chins and Eddie Changs of the world and this wasn’t her cup of tea at all so most of it was packaged up to take home with us.
The Pho, which was the basis for our trip to Saigon Palace in Burnsville in the first place, came in what seemed to be a 8″ bowl. On the menu it was said to have: rare beef, well-cooked flank steak, tendon, tripe and meat balls. It came with a fairly disappointing condiment tray of the usual sprouts, lime, peppers and basil but there was one single, uncut, tiny hot pepper, a very small lime wedge, and limp and spotty basil which indicated it wasn’t all that fresh. On every table were two squeeze bottles (one clear with brown hoisin and one converted ketchup bottle with some sort of Sriracha-like sauce) and a tray with what appeared to be vinegar, chili sauce, soy sauce and some other unidentified items which I couldn’t detect by smell and taste alone.
I began by tasting the broth before adding anything to it. Unlike my recent experience with an unadulterated broth at Palace’s Pizza, this broth tasted as if it were infused with fresh herbs, felt very heavy in your mouth and, as I later found out, was very salty. The broth itself was fine, certainly not the best I’ve ever had but definitely not the worst.
I wasn’t at all impressed with the amount of beef or meatballs but found plenty of tendon and tripe. The beef wasn’t as rare as I would have expected when they claimed it would be on the menu and the meatballs numbered all of 5 pieces. They didn’t carry much flavor themselves and the well-cooked flank steak was dry and chewy. While I love beef jerky, I wasn’t looking for it to be in my pho.
The noodles were in a single ball in the middle of the soup. It took me some time to dislodge them and spread them out in the broth. There was plenty of them but they were a bit heavier than I would have liked. I really would have preferred less noodles and more meat but who wouldn’t?
After adding the condiments and slurping the soup down with hoisin and “Sriracha” (I never ate it by itself but I’m going to assume it wasn’t real Sriracha or they probably would have just kept the actual bottles on the tables) it was fine. Nothing mind-blowing but it certainly did the trick and helped open up my clogged nasal passages. I ate almost all of the soup knowing it really wouldn’t keep well if I had taken it home with me anyway. I probably would only come back to do the pho at Saigon Palace in the future if I was desperate and had no other choice available to me.
When it was all said and done our bill came out to $33+ before tip. Not out of control but certainly more money than I expected to pay for lunch. While the pho did the trick, I was disappointed that they didn’t have banh mi and I wasn’t blown away by anything we had during our visit. Like I said above I wouldn’t mind returning if I had no other alternative but I really don’t see Saigon Palace becoming a regular stop for us.
Have you ever eaten at Saigon Palace in Burnsville? If so what did you think? Where do you get banh mi and/or pho in the South Metro? Do you seek out soups when you’re sick? Whatever you have to say about Saigon Palace go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
401 W Burnsville Pkwy
Burnsville, MN 55337
Monday, Wednesday – Friday: 11 AM to 9 PM
Saturday – Sunday: 10 AM to 9 PM
See all the pictures from Saigon Palace in Burnsville on Flickr here.