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The Saigon Café serves up a taste of Vietnam

New among the restaurantchoices in Bluffton is the SaigonCafé, on Fording Island Roadnear the Salvation Army store.This welcoming restaurant providesa refreshing break from fastfood eateries and typical Americanmenus. Prepared in authenticVietnamese style, Saigon Caféserves appetizers, Asian sandwiches,Pho (Vietnamese noodlesoup), and grilled rice plates withpork, shrimp, chicken and beef.Vietnamese food uses fish sauce,soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruitsand vegetables.

Kevin and Kathy Phan servethe complete menu every day forevery meal in this sunlit cafe. Eachmeal is prepared as it is ordered,made from fresh ingredients, anddelivered to the diner's table inshort order.

All dishes have ample portionsand here is really good news forrecession-weary Americans-everythingon the menu is less than$10. Saigon Café offers all meals to dine in ortake out, but does not serve dessert.

Beverages served include some not-so-usualchoices. In addition to soft drinks, beer andwine, soybean milk, young coconut juice andBubble Tea are available. Kevin reports that BubbleTea, an imported Asian bottled drink madefrom tapioca, is very popular with children.

If you're not fluent in Vietnamese, order yourmeal by its number. For example, #C2 is ComSuon Nuong Tom Trung- grilled pork chop,shrimp and egg. This colorful dish is accompaniedby steamed rice, a special fish sauce, lettuce,carrots and pickled daikon (an east Asianradish). What makes this entree so delicious isthe shrimp, which are grilled to perfection.

Kevin reports that the most popular items atthe Saigon Café are the Pho Tai-eye of roundsteak soup (which was extremely hearty andloaded with noodles), spring rolls and eggrolls and chicken wings, for children. The Pho,which some call the Vietnamese national dish, issteaming, filled to the brim of the large bowl andfragrant with ginger, onions and cilantro.It is presented with basil, bean sprouts, a limeand a jalapeño slice on the side.

As a starter, the spring rolls excel. Carefullyenclosed in a wrap so thin that the cooked pinkshrimp shows through, the spring rolls are deliciousand beautifully presented.

Consider the Saigon Café for a new experienceat lunch and dinner. And for those with lessadventurous palates, Saigon Cafe's sandwichesmade with French baguettes might be a goodplace to start.