Seems that there is a new Vietnamese restaurant opening up almost every week. Miss Saigon has opened in the former premises of the Olympic Cafe and Market Kitchen, behind the Newmarket tepid baths. The restaurant has several spaces on different levels, and the main change is the upgrading of the back garden room, which can now be used in all seasons.
Once we had found a car park – not easy around 6pm due to the afterwork crowd patronising the several gyms in the neighbourhood – we settled in to check out the menu.
The menu covers the classics as well as those less well known. Although the starters were on the expensive side, the three of us were hungry and decided to order the fresh spring rolls ($15) and the chicken nibbles ($14). These arrived promptly and the fresh spring rolls in particular were nicely presented. The spring rolls were good but not with that fresh herb punch I remember from my travels. I was pleased that the rolls were not filled with vermicelli noodles, always a disappointment. These were accompanied by a hoisin dipping sauce.
The chicken nibbles were a surprise hit for us. The wings had been twice cooked, so were tender but had a crunchy skin. They were slathered in homemade chilli sauce that was mild enough for our daughter to enjoy. There were four whole wings in the order, but at $14 I felt it was too expensive. We could have easily ordered another batch, but we had mains coming.
Our daughter loves green curry, so her choice of green chicken curry ($16.50) was made quickly. I love the flavour of lemongrass, so opted for the chicken with lemongrass and chilli ($18), while my husband tried the Bun Cha Hanoi ($18), which was a combination of grilled pork belly and pork mince.
Miss Saigon provides interesting options for vegetarians. They offer several curries using either tofu or Vietnamese jackfruit.
The mains were good value for money. All the servings were of a reasonable size, accompanied by rice and either salad or coleslaw. My lemongrass and chilli chicken was a stir fry of chicken pieces, not the chicken cutlet that I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it. The flavour of the lemongrass was very pronounced and the chilli was not overpowering. In fact, I could have used a side dish of chilli.
We were not sure what to expect with the pork dish. It turned out to be pork pieces and pork mince meatballs in a broth or sauce redolent of tamarind and fish sauce. It was accompanied by vermicelli noodles and a green salad. While I preferred my chicken dish, my husband was very content with the pork, and splurped up every drop of the broth.
We were all disappointed in the green chicken curry. The coconut cream overwhelmed the spice flavourings. Maybe we are used to the Thai version of this dish, because this version was just too rich for us.
Not one to lose the opportunity to try something new, we shared one of the desserts. It was a cool evening, so we tried the warm banana with coconut milk and tapioca pearls ($9.50). This was a generous serving of comfort food and a sure hit for people who love the flavour of banana. We couldn’t identify the pieces of fruit in our dessert, which definitely were not banana, and were told it was cassava.
There is also traditional Vietnamese coffee, espresso and a variety of teas to conclude your meal.
Miss Saigon is open from morning (11:00am) to night (9:00pm). Already popular with the local lunch crowd, consider a visit if you are in the neighbourhood in the evening, too.