I love Vietnamese food. I’ve lamented not being able to find good Vietnamese cuisine in Bangkok before. I have also celebrated when I found a place that served decent Vietnamese cuisine at very cheap prices. But now I am thrilled to report that I’ve found a place that has incredible, authentic Vietnamese dishes, at reasonable prices, with a wonderful atmosphere. Saigon Recipe (official Facebook page) is the place I’m referring to, and it’s the BEST Vietnamese cuisine I’ve had in Bangkok!
Saigon Recipe offers an extensive menu. You can take a peek at their online menu, but unfortunately it doesn’t cover ALL that they offer. I highly recommend you visit the restaurant and look over their thick leather covered menu. In this review spanning two visits I can give you a good idea of what they have to offer–but even then it’s just a taste of what can be had!
Let’s get to the food shall we?
Impressed from the start!
I love, love, love, love a good bánh mì! When I found out my favorite bánh mì shop in Bangkok, Banh Mi Bo, wasn’t going to reopen I nearly wept. It’s a quality of life thing. It’s also a testament to how much I love these sandwiches. Saigon Recipe makes a GREAT Mixed Bánh Mì (150 baht).
The bread is nice and crunchy on the outside with a little chew on the inside. It’s stuffed with pickled veggies and herbs, with a fair amount of mixed Vietnamese lunch meats, and a delicious homemade pâté. For some reason it reminded me of Christmas. Not because I was so happy, but because the pâté has some spice in it that reminds me of Christmas. Clove? Nutmeg? The jury is out on that one, but it was DELICIOUS. It was just missing the fiery chili bits–but I’m betting I could have asked for them.
You MUST try these!
Saigon Recipe offers plenty of starter dishes to get your appetite going. One dish I highly recommend is the Bánh Cuốn Nhân Thập Cẩm (220 baht). These are steamed rice crepes filled with seasoned ground pork, minced shrimp and wood ear mushrooms. It’s topped with fried shallots and served with slices of Vietnamese sausage, cucumber, sprouts, and slivers of basil.
The crepes stick together a bit so you’ll have to be gentle pulling them apart. Your efforts will be rewarded. The minced pork has a slight smoky char taste, and the “minced” shrimp are actually large chunks of perfectly cooked shrimp. This is a must try dish.
Oodles of noodles…
Saigon Recipe offers oodles of noodle options (both with or without soup). This Bún Thịt Bò Xào Nam Bộ (240 baht) is one of those dishes not on the online menu. It’s southern Vietnam style stir fried beef with rice vermicelli noodles, herbs, veggies, peanuts, and a homemade sauce. There are 3 flavors you can get: lemongrass, jicama, and onion. The one pictured is onion.
The combination of flavors here is incredible. Dump the sauce bowl in and then stir it all up together. You’ll find tons of fresh herbs on the bottom. This was the dish that sealed the deal for me. I knew I’d found a foodie gem in the Bangkok food scene and decided then and there to revisit the next day to do some more menu “research” and learn about their story.
The following is from that visit.
Because I wanted to get a wide range of menu sampling I ordered totally different items for this new visit. I was impressed with every single thing I received. Let’s jump in!
An incredible salad…
This is Gỏi Củ Hủ Dừa (240 baht). I’ve never had anything like this before. It’s fantastic and I highly recommend it. This salad is made with crunchy hearts of palm, large succulent halved shrimp, thin slices of pork, and herbs. It’s also served with shrimp rice crackers but honestly you’ll probably just end up eating this spoonful after spoonful!
Crunchy and delicious!
The Bánh Xèo Tôm Thịt (240 baht) is a paper thin crispy rice flour crepe filled with large whole shrimp, thin sheets of pork, and bean sprouts. It’s served with a sweet sauce with slices of carrot and radish. It’s so crunchy and flavorful (add the sauce!). I highly recommend this dish as a starter for sharing (though it does take 20 minutes to prepare).
Build your own snack…
Another excellent starter is the Chạo Tôm (280 baht), a charcoal grilled shrimp cake wrapped on a stick of sugarcane. It comes with rice vermicelli noodles, slices of garlic, young mango, green banana, and cucumber, and lettuce with rice paper. Basically you build your own savory snack!
A starter and a main…
For a great noodle dish that gives you a nice sample of what Saigon Recipe has to offer I highly recommend this Bún Chả Giò Thịt Nướng (220 baht). The dish is made with rice vermicelli noodles topped with BBQ pork, fried spring rolls, fresh herbs, and vegetables. For the solo diner it offers a nice mix without having to get a starter and a main. It’s also wonderful!
My new favorite noodle soup!
I’m a fan of phở (say THAT five times real fast!). I was tempted to try it at Saigon Recipe but this Bún Bò Huế (220 baht) really caught my eye. It’s basically beef noodle soup, Huế style. The broth is amazing. It’s sweet, salty, and sour. But you can add some deeper spice to it with their fresh ớt sa tế paste (made with red chili and lemongrass). Move over phở, I’ve got a new favorite noodle soup now!
Did you save room for dessert?
After a big meal it can be nice to have a little sweet. At Saigon Recipe don’t expect giant slices of cake. Instead they offer some small sweet ways to end a meal. We had the Chè Trôi Nước (80 baht), a dessert made with rice dumplings (filled with green bean & peanuts) in ginger syrup. We also had the Bánh Flan (60 baht), a caramel custard pudding.
Saigon Recipe also has some great Vietnamese coffee. The beans are roasted fresh and served with the requisite condensed milk (unless you order it black). Pictured is the Cà Phê Sữa (80 baht). Once you try this coffee you’ll never look at Starbucks again.
A chat with the owners…
Saigon Recipe is owned and operated by husband and wife, Masa and Tina. Masa is from Japan and Tina is from Vietnam (growing up in Saigon). They’ve been living in Bangkok for over 10 years. For nearly 5 years Tina was really missing the food from “home” and growing disappointed with what she was able to find in Bangkok for Vietnamese cuisine.
After awhile she decided if she couldn’t find the “taste of home” then she’d make it herself. Then she got the idea that she could open up a restaurant to share that “taste of home”. With the support of Masa, Saigon Recipe was opened November 10, 2012.
For Tina food is more than just food. It’s memories. Memories of being with her family. Of being home. So when she designed the menu she included the dishes that she loved, and since it’s Bangkok, dishes that Thai’s love (like the spicy hearts of palm salad, Gỏi Củ Hủ Dừa). Tina is very proud of the Saigon Recipe menu and of her chef. The Vietnamese chef was hired because she could cook like Tina’s father, and is committed to serving authentic traditional Vietnamese cuisine.
Saigon Recipe – A quick escape to Saigon!
Tina’s goal is to bring the customer “home”. Not only is the menu reminiscent of being home, the interior design is also a reminder of being in southern Vietnam. The walls are painted with yellow chalk paint, the rice pictures are of historically significant buildings in Saigon, paper lanterns hang from the ceiling, and there are even family pictures on the walls. Diners are also treated to additional ambience by the softly playing Vietnamese radio tunes circa 1975.
I’m hungry. Where is it?
Saigon Recipe is located on Sukhumvit Soi 49 in the lot across the street from the Villa Market before the Samitivej Hospital. That street can be a bit crowded especially during peak traffic hours. One hack I found was to take the BTS to Thonglor Station then walk towards Soi 49. There are motorcycle taxi stands available at the corner of Sukhumvit 53, 51, and 49. A quick ride weaving through the traffic will set you back a whopping 20 baht!
Saigon Recipe offers 3 floors of seating. The 3rd floor is perfect for large groups or private functions. The floor to ceiling window on the first floor let’s in a lot of natural light. Therefore I recommend the first floor seating if it’s an option. If you love Vietnamese food you will love this place. Leave a message in the comment section below if you visit!