Saigon Shack: Satisfying Hunger with Big Bowls of Love
Hi Everyone! Today, I want to talk about Saigon Shack in Greenwich Village. Popular amongst the NYU folk, Saigon Shack serves comforting Vietnamese food at an affordable price. Whether you need a steaming bowl of pho to cope with the dismally frigid New York winters or a refreshing banh mi to cool off in the summer, Saigon Shack has it all.
I've been coming here, although, not as frequently as I would like, since my freshman year in college (2010). And, every time I come, I almost always get the same order: a spring roll or a summer roll and lemongrass chicken with vermicelli or pho. To me, Vietnamese food is very balanced. Every dish is made to include a variety of different tastes that work well together.
Overall, Saigon Shack is probably my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in NYC.
First, you’ll see the majestic fried spring rolls hanging out on some pickled vegetables and a piece of lettuce like a boss. The spring rolls were filled with minced pork, shrimp, and glass noodles and the fried rice paper was so nice and crunchy. I could eat 4892 of these. My favorite part is the sweet and sour fish sauce, known as nuoc cham. It’s made with lime juice, sugar, water, fish sauce, vinegar, and chopped carrots. It could use a few chopped bird’s eye chilies for slight kick in the face but I liked it anyways. Other variations can include garlic or coconut water. I like nuoc cham because of the subtle sweet and sour taste, which can make anything taste refreshing.
My friend, Vivian, got the pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. Pronounced as "FUH", pho is a popular Vietnamese street food. While there are many variations of this dish, it will most often contain broth, thin rice noodles, some herbs, and meat. Most of the pho that I order come with beansprouts, onions, and scallions. The meat comes partially cooked but it will continue to cook in the boiling soup. The soup is made by simmering meat, bones, herbs, and spices together until all the secret flavors come out and get mixed together. The meat and bones will provide the broth with a savory earthy flavor while the herbs and spices develop the character and aromatics. A good broth is clear and not murky.
Recommendations for eating pho: Add a little bit of lime. Don't add too much sauce or else it will overpower the broth. The broth is the best part of the soup. Use two hands: One hand for chopsticks and the other for a soup spoon. This is so that you can shovel a good amount of noodles, meat, and vegetables into your mouth with a quick spoonful of steaming broth to follow up. Then, enjoy :)
I ordered the Lemongrass Chicken over vermicelli, as always. Every time I see it on the menu I cannot resist. The perfectly grilled and seasoned chicken lies on top of a bed of vermicelli, lettuce, and assorted pickled vegetables. Look at it. Look at how beautiful it looks. Draw it like one of your french girls, Jack.
This is one of my ultimate summer eats. It's so refreshing that I always feel amazing after eating it. It also comes with a small cup of nuoc cham for me to pour all over my body the dish. Lemongrass is a popular ingredient used in many Vietnamese dishes. It brings a nice lemony, gingery taste to the dish. Lemongrass Chicken is amazingly aromatic so make sure you take the time to enjoy the scents.