London Eating: Saigon Saigon, Hammersmith

Chargrilled Chicken with Honey and 5-spices
The economic chill is gripping me and my unemployed comrades, however not one to get down about it, i have decided since moving down to London, take it on myself to re-write the Time Out guide of cheap eats. Or at least check them to on my own standards. So the last few weeks have been spent eating my way around the good and the great bargain troughs of the west. All in the name of research of course. The cuisine of tonight, for any geography failures like me, the clue is in the title. As obvious as calling a restaurant, in Vietnam, London London.
Anyone looking for a hint of nostalgia need only to pop over to Hammersmith, to check out Saigon Saigon’s interesting brown decor that evokes a little more then a hint of the seventies. That aside, the sweet oriental decor and light, not obviously romantic, vibe of the restaurant made for a very pleasant, cozy meal. Nothing too glamorous but the seats were a comfy bottom accommodating contrast to the bum numbing wooden benches of many a frequented establishment. The restaurant, comprised of one main room with a few two-seaters dotted about rather erratically in the entrance hallway.

The Menu was rather overwhelmingly large, which made it rather difficult to choose. After much deliberation, we started with an assortment of soft Spring Rolls. A mixture of Vermicelli, Woodear Mushroom and Tofu in one and minced Chicken and Prawn in the other. The was a classic starter rolled to perfection, with a great hoisin dipping sauce.

Main course brought out barbecued Chicken marinated in Five Spice and Honey and a Seafood medley cooked in coco water and red wine vinegar, cooked in a clay pot and brought out on fire, for added theatricality. Aptly named ‘Seafood on Fire.’ It was a toss up between that and the Sea Bream – which i will definitely be trying in future, with shredded Mango, crushed Chilli and minced Coriander. Mine was obviously the more exotic of the two and regrettably, as delicious as it was, it was the simplistic chargrilled Chicken dish that trumped. It was symbiotic balance of salty and sticky sweet, with the fragrant kick of 5 spices. I could’t tell you what the spices were, I was too busy guzzling my boyfriends dish to bother asking. Not before I took a few cheeky snaps though, obviously.
Saigon Saigon isn’t the kind of place where you feel inept for not displaying perfect table manners, which I was very pleased to see, being the kind of person that almost always leaves with at least one mark on my front. The unmistakable Pho noodle slurps on all sides were hugely welcoming.
With the modest cheque came and assortment of unusual sweet treats. Soft crystalized ginger, a spicy Tamarind sweet and Lotus flower sweets which was nice touch, perfect to settle the sweet tooth since we didn’t have pudding.

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