Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vietnamese restaurant in Hartsdale,
158 South Central Park Ave
Hartsdale, NY 10530

Upper Westchester has lacked a Vietnamese restaurant so far.  And that hole recently got filled with Saigonese, a small, stylish restaurant on Central Avenue in White Plains.  At the entrance, below the billboard, a firehose connector labeled “Siamese Twin”  suggests a minor in Thai food, but that soon gets resolved upon stepping inside.

We had beef in grape leaves, grilled spare ribs, a pho noodle soup with brisket, and grilled chicken.  The small place was packed, and customers crowded around the entrance.  Yet the food was not in keeping with the expectations set by this waiting clientele.  The meats were ho hum, the pho was decent.  Not the best that I have had, but would work.

This now makes four places where I could get a Pho in Westchester, four more than I could four years ago.  There is Neo in Mt. Kisco, Umami Café in Croton,  Noodle Plus in White Plains, and now Saigonese.  I have not had the one at Umami yet, but the others taste much like a suburban city piano recital at a decent music school.  Pho lacks the dynamic range that good Japanese Ramen can achieve, but it is a lot less fattening than Ramen and light on the palate.   I have found decent pho place usually located close to university campuses—Cornell, Harvard and U Penn are examples for instance on the East coast (none near Columbia as far as I can tell); and the best Pho that I have had has been at Cornell, and a small family run place in downtown Baltimore (Mekong Delta Café).

But getting back to Saigonese, I hope that the quality of the food improves, for Westchester really needs a dedicated Vietnamese restaurant.

Saigonese on Urbanspoon