Kim and I went out to Saigon Restaurant and Bakery in St Paul on the suggestion of one of my coworkers. She was raving about their sandwiches which she said were huge, cheap, and huge. Mmm, cheap and huge — right up my alley :)
We arrived and noticed that it’s not in the best section of town but it’s right next to a parking lot full of police cars so it makes you feel a little safer coming out of the suburbs ;) I did overhear a conversation between the cashier/waitress and a patron over the jar of donation money on the counter and how the woman that picks it up every few months was beaten and robbed after doing a pickup by a patron in the restaurant for about $60…
We were quickly seated in the small restaurant meant for no more than 70 but probably would comfortably fit only 45 to 50 people. The restaurant seating area is very simple with wooden tables, plastic chopsticks, and a tray full of various toppings like chili sauce, fish oil, and other items.
While perusing the menu I immediately noticed the prices. The most expensive item I saw was 10.95 (their Saigon specialty salad which comes with chicken, pork, shrimp, meatball, and eggroll) and the least expensive item was 1.25 for their veggie sandwich. Most items were in the $3.00 range and these weren’t for tiny portioned items. You are getting a TON of food for your money here!
The number of options was so huge I couldn’t look through it all but they offer 11 appetizers, 9 vegetarian meals (there are others but these are in the vegetarian section), 20 sandwiches, 18 Vermicelli salads, 18 Rice Noodle Soups, 11 Rice and Egg noodle soups, 16 Rice entrees, and numerous other sides, etc.
I originally planned on ordering the small wonton soup (roast pork wonton soup topped with onion and cilantro) and their grilled meatball and mayo sandwich (3.50 and 3.50) but was quickly informed that they were out of sandwiches for the evening. We came here specifically for the sandwiches which made it kinda a bummer. While we were deciding again, a woman walked to the counter and asked if they had any more sandwiches. When she was told no, she left. Kim later said she stopped counting how many times people asked and were told no for sandwiches — it seems that they are by far the most popular items.
After reordering (we each went with their wonton soup which are pork and shrimp wontons and egg noodles) we watched as the restaurant filled up with so many people. Obviously the food is good :) As I was looking around, I noticed the huge portions being served for little amounts of money. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the sights and smells of the food and I can’t imagine how anyone else could disagree.
Our food arrived fast and the bowls they were in were large and I thought everything about them was excellent. Kim didn’t care for any part of her bowl and I ended up eating much of her’s. The side dish of baby sprouts with hot peppers and limes was good and her wings were excellent as well. Her biggest complaint was the amount of cilantro that they used more than anything else.
After we finished, I went up to the counter (they have you pay by table letter/number and don’t give you your bill). Our bill was $17 before tip. I would certainly return but Kim wouldn’t go unless she knew the sandwiches were available.
If you’re looking for some excellent and authentic Vietnamese food for really really low prices, I highly suggest that you check out Saigon Restaurant and Bakery in St. Paul! While this can’t go up on our favorites list because Kim didn’t enjoy it, it comes with my highest approval ratings.
See all the pictures from today here (mobile).