Saigon Corner is one of those hidden gems in Quezon City that’s just waiting to be stumbled upon. Its homey interior is complemented by a menu filled with homestyle Vietnamese dishes. There is a ‘one big happy family’ vibe amongst the staff and the owners, and it helps the place exude a cozy familiarity akin to sitting down at a relative’s dining room in anticipation of a good meal.
It could also be that I have come to associate Vietnamese food with “comfort food” over the years. Pho especially is one of those warm and hearty things you could turn to if you’ve had a bad week and just want something to soothe your soul.
I think it’s unfortunate that Vietnamese eateries aren’t as popular as Japanese sushi joints and KBBQ places. Nothing wrong with those two as I love them as well, but I keep waiting for Vietnamese food to have a similar momentum. I personally love how Vietnamese cuisine relies a lot on fresh herbs, spices, and veggies to add life to their dishes, whether it be their noodles, sandwiches, or even their crepes. The flavors and scents stemming from this cuisine is so unique. A squeeze of lemon and a couple of slices of chili (or a dash of Sriracha even) are the only last touches you need for a complete experience.
An experience which you can get from Saigon Corner.
The simplicity of the interiors of Saigon Corner give it a ‘feels-like-home’ ambiance, however it’s the small added details that give it a decidedly Vietnamese flair. From the woven walls to the fixtures that look like the iconic Vietnamese conical hats, there is a subtle touch that reminds you that you are about to get a taste of Vietnam in this place.
The menu at Saigon Corner is a mixture of classic favorites and Vietnamese adaptations. There’s nothing dramatic or elaborate about the food. They are simply expertly cooked and delicious in their straightforwardness. The Beef Pho here brings me back to that first authentic bowl I had during my first ever visit to Vietnam, at a small restaurant by the roadside in Ho Chi Minh. It was cheap but it was so good it remains to this day one of my fondest food memories from Vietnam.
Saigon Corner’s Beef Pho gives me the same kind of feeling. The broth is flavorful and the noodles slurp-worthy. It’s a bit amazing to think that a big shareable bowl is less than 300 pesos.
Similarly, you can get a bowl of Seafood Pho for less than 300 pesos, and while this was also delicious, I honestly prefer the Beef Pho. The satisfaction and heartiness of it is different, especially once you dump in the basil and the bean sprouts then squirt in some Sriracha.
Pho aside, you can also give their dry noodle option a go. It’s actually a noodle salad with a generous serving of glazed beef. Pouring in Saigon Corner’s secret dressing gives the dish a bright flavor.
Moving on to other Vietnamese classics, we also ordered these gorgeous Summer Rolls. Inside we have pork, shrimp, and lettuce. I feel like rolls like this is such a quintessential Vietnamese thing that it serves as an indication of how legit a Vietnamese restaurant is. Saigon Corner’s was fresh and tasty, especially when dipped into the peanut sauce.
Their Traditional Banh Mi, though not the best I ever had, was pretty good. The cold cuts and the pate are flavorful, and the veggies are fresh and crunchy. I think I was looking for a bit more zing from the pickled vegetables. The bread is actually homemade and I quite liked the crustiness of it. The fact that Saigon Corner grow their own herbs too is a bonus.
I normally enjoy eating Vietnamese Pancakes wrapped in lettuce, but the fat belly of this one beckoned to be torn open and enjoyed as is. It’s a little oily but I can forgive it considering the crepes are filled with many things I love, including bean sprouts and shrimp. The nuoc cham sauce adds a delightful tang and cuts through the greasy feeling.
The crepes also go well paired with the Shrimp Fried Rice. To be honest, this rice dish is bursting with enough flavor that you can eat it on its own and feel satisfied. Though not obvious in my photo, the serving is big enough for sharing among 3 hungry people, although the six of us made it work because we ordered many other things.
If you want to add a bit more variety to your orders, you can opt for the hot and spicy Buffalo Wings and the Salted Egg Prawns, both filed under the pulutan section of their menu.
The servings are smaller and prices higher, as one would expect from a pulutan offering in any restaurant. However, I can say that the taste of the Salted Egg Prawn is rather spot on. It’s got a more authentic salted egg flavor, although most of it is stuck on the shell.
If Pho Hoa is all you’ve ever known about Vietnamese food, then I highly suggest you make your way to Saigon Corner. The owners of this no-frills Vietnamese restaurant will welcome you in with a smile, and most importantly, a good selection of affordable and authentic-tasting Vietnamese dishes. Among my recommendations: Beef Brisket Pho, Summer Rolls, Traditional Banh Mi, Vietnamese Crepes, and the Shrimp Fried Rice.
There’s a lutong-bahay or homestyle feel to every dish they bring out that reminds me of those small eateries on the roadsides of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh that serve up hearty fare. Those are always a bang for the buck, like Saigon Corner is. I don’t see how you could walk out of this restaurant without a satisfied stomach and a smile on your face.
PS. How come so many Vietnamese restaurants use the word ‘Corner’ in their name? The other one is in Makati, but frankly speaking, I like Saigon Corner better.
My rating: 8.5 out of 10
40 Sgt. Esguerra St. cor. Eugenio Lopez,
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Hours: Mondays to Sundays, 11am to 11pm
Contact No.: (02) 368 0795
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Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions stated above are my own.
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