Saigon Bowl

Special thanks to Saigon Bowl for extending this food review invitation.

The Whiteaways Arcade is a historical building at Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai). Like the neighboring Logan Heritage, The Whiteaways Arcade was constructed more than a century ago. One of the shops here is Saigon Bowl, a restaurant which features southern Vietnam cuisine.
The restaurant is rather spacious and has the right ambience for family dining. The dining area is decorated with Vietnamese ornaments but also has a modern feel. There are dining tables for 2 or 4 persons, and even a large wooden table for bigger parties.
Saigon Bowl specializes in phở. Phở is a soup dish which uses rice noodles called bánh phở. The signature version is Pho Beef Combo (RM18.90) or phở bò. Saigon Bowl's signature beef broth is prepared from 19 types of herbs. Cooked for several hours, the soup is saturated with rich flavors. It is tasty to the last drop.
The noodle dish contains sliced rib eye, beef briskets and beef balls - all imported from Australia. The briskets are particularly succulent. Also included are bean sprouts, Thai basil (húng quế), scallions, onions and red chili peppers. Meanwhile, the accompanying condiments are lime, hoisin sauce (tương đen), hot sauce (tương ớt) and bird's eye chili.

Pho Chicken Combo (RM13.90) is the poultry version of phở. Commonly called phở gà, this dish uses a different soup base that has stronger flavor and carries a subtle hint of sourness. This beef-free dish is served with chicken breast and chicken balls. Although the chicken is sufficiently tender, it is nowhere as enjoyable as beef.
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll (RM9.90) is the most popular side dish. It is known as "gỏi cuốn" in southern Vietnam, and "nem cuốn" in the north. The translucent skin is made from rice paper (bánh tráng). Since the skin is not cooked, it has a chewy texture. Rolled in the skin are chicken breast, shrimps, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers and lettuce. The rolls come with peanut butter sauce.
Meanwhile, Saigon Crispy Spring Roll (RM5.90) is filled with minced chicken breast, wood ear fungus, rice vermicelli and fried garlic. The rolls are deep-fried such that they become crispy. This snack is commonly called known as "chả giò" in southern Vietnam. It comes with fish sauce (nước mắm), which tastes sweet in small amounts but becomes salty if excessive.

Hot Vietnamese Drip Coffee With Condensed Milk (RM6.90) is known locally as cà phê việt nam. As a former French colony, Vietnam's favorite coffee is adapted from the French press. The drink uses a drip filter called cà phê phin. Hot water is poured over ground coffee, and filtered coffee drips to the glass below. Vietnamese coffee typically use dark roast beans, resulting in a brew with somewhat bold taste.
Iced Dried Longan With Lotus (RM5.90) is one of the several choices of cold drinks. Personally, I feel that the drink is sweeter than it needs to be. It may be better to reduce the amount of sugar and let the longan's natural sweetness take the center stage.
A shelf next to the entrance displays Vietnamese merchandise such as Vietnamese coffee powder (RM29.90), Vietnamese coffee dripper (RM49.90), Vifon dry pho (RM15.90) and Sriracha chili sauce (RM13.90). These items are the same as what the restaurant serves dine-in customers.
Saigon Bowl's phở recipe is among the better ones that I have tasted so far. The flavorful broths are probably the restaurant's strongest suit. On weekdays, the restaurant offers set lunch at rather affordable prices. Last but not least, it is also noted that Saigon Bowl's menu is entirely pork-free.
Name: Saigon Bowl
Address: 20A & 20B, Lebuh Pantai, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 017-471-3720
Business hours: 12:00pm-10:00pm
Coordinates: 5.41763 N, 100.34222 E
Directions: The Whiteaways Arcade is a two-storey building on Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai), located on the right when driving from the Jubilee Clock Tower. Saigon Bowl is one of the shops in the front. Street parking is available along nearby roads like Church Street (Lebuh Gereja) and Bishop Street (Lebuh Bishop).

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