Besides Japanese restaurants and bars, Tokyo also houses a trove of foreign cuisine restaurants. Some really good examples are Indian, Chinese, Nepalese, Peruvian, Russian, as well as Vietnamese. Right in the heart of busy, metropolitan Tokyo lays a Vietnamese restaurant that serves up authentic street fare.
Getting a fix of banh mi or a Vietnamese baguette sandwich may be easy, but a place with satisfying pho, goi cuon or banh xeo may pose a challenge. Goi cuon are rice paper spring rolls, and banh xeo are pancakes or thick crepes filled with fried bean sprouts and meat, somewhat similar to the Japanese okonomiyaki. So how did we find delicious Vietnamese dishes?
Riding the elevator to the sixth floor of the Shimizu Building in Dogenzaka, we entered the dimly lit Miss Saigon. Exotic sounding music was playing in the background as the mild scent of incense wafted by. We were brought to a window seat that had a view of the bustling night streets of Shibuya. It felt like we were transported to a street cart in Ho Chi Minh City. Our party placed orders of beef, chicken and spicy pho, and banh xeo. The beef pho had options of sliced meat or including liver and tripe. The 333 label Vietnamese street beer was also on the menu.
The pho was accompanied by a sharing plate of raw bean sprouts, basil, and lemon. The broth was delightfully flavorful. The banh xeo was served with little dishes of chili and fish sauce, as well as lettuce, coriander, cucumbers and carrots. It was filled with stir-fried bean sprouts, scallion, shrimp and bits of fatty pork. The proper way of eating it is to wrap the crepe and filling in the lettuce. It was interesting and delicious! Miss Saigon is a good place for authentic Vietnamese food, and we can’t wait to taste the rest of the menu. The tempting fresh and fried shrimp rolls will have to wait until next time.