Saigon Pho Showcases the Variety and Versatility of Vietnamese Food

The popular Parsippany BYO shows there's more to Vietnamese cuisine than steaming bowls of pho.

With a name like Saigon Pho, it should come as no surprise that the main event at this BYO is pho, the aromatic and comforting Vietnamese soup. Served in large, steaming bowls, pho consists of broth, rice noodles, various meats, herbs and bean sprouts.

There are 12 pho options on the menu at Saigon Pho in Parsippany, available in three sizes: small ($8), large ($9) or extra-large ($13.95). I’ve ordered the large portion of the pho with rare beef (#24) before, and found that difficult enough to finish by myself. I can’t imagine how much I’d have to eat if I ever ordered an extra-large portion.

I especially couldn’t imagine doing so during a recent visit, on one of those brutal 100-degree days earlier this month. So I decided to explore the rest of the menu.

Chicken satay, above, and fried spring rolls. Photo by Shelby Vittek

My friend and I started with an order of fried spring rolls and chicken satay, served on skewers with a peanut dipping sauce. The two appetizers came out quickly, and before the spring rolls had cooled down enough for us to eat, our entrées were out and crowding the table.

This seems like an appropriate time to mention a note about the service: It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Halfway through my meal, I watched as a nearby table tried to flag down the server for the check. I frequently had to look around for someone to refill my water, which was not enjoyable on an especially hot evening. The restaurant wasn’t busy enough to merit such inattentive service, with only half a dozen tables of the large restaurant seated for dinner.

Sliced grilled pork. Photo by Shelby Vittek

But it was hard to be overly critical once we dug into our dinner. The portion size of the pork fried rice ($9.50) was plentiful and well priced. My friend opted for a stir-fried rice noodle dish with shrimp, which was loaded with baby bok choy, carrots, baby corn and onions.

At Saigon Pho, you can’t go wrong with any dish that features grilled pork. For me, the highlight of this meal was the sliced grilled pork (#126), served over a bed of shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes with white rice on the side. The pork had clearly spent a healthy amount of time marinating before hitting the grill. It was sweet and smoky, and exceptionally tender, with just the right notes of umami—and for only $14.95, the dish was an incredible bargain.

By the end of dinner, it was clear we had ordered too much food. But I didn’t mind the next day, when I got to savor bites of grilled pork again for lunch.

Saigon Pho, 744 U.S. Route 46, Parsippany; 973-794-4632
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

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