After enjoying some delicious bahn mi from Saigonese over the weekend, I went there this week for a sit-down meal to further explore its menu. First of all, the dining room was nicer than I expected it to be - fairly clean, soft classical music playing, asian-looking musical instruments decorating the walls. A few other tables were occupied, but it wasn't crowded. We were seated next to their goldfish tank, and it was kind of fun to watch the fishies swim around while we had dinner.
For an appetizer, we shared an order of summer rolls and stuffed squid. The summer rolls were okay, but a little unexciting. There were stuffed with pork, cabbage, and vermicelli noodles. The rolls came with fish sauce for dipping. The pork didn't seem to have much seasoning on it, and the rolls didn't have the cilantro, mint, veggies, the other summer rolls sometimes have. So, I would say they weren't bad, but they weren't super exciting. My favorite place for summer rolls is the Lotus Cafe in Silver Spring around the corner from Jackies. I was hoping Saigonese would unseat them, but no luck. The stuffed squid was filled with a meatball-like mix of seasoned pork, crab, shrimp, and a few veggies. It also came with fish sauce for dipping. The squid was a little chewy (not unusual for squid), but I liked the mealball filling, even though it was kind of falling out of the squid because they cut the whole concoction into slices for easier eating. Overall, I liked the squid better than the summer rolls, but my boyfriend found it a little greasy.
For dinner, we shared the pork vermicelli with imperial rolls and the crepe. The pork in the vermicelli dish was more marinated and flavorful than the pork in the summer roll, so that was good, and the dish came with the usual mix of veggies, cabbage, and noodles. I liked it and would probaby get it again. The imperial rolls were a little grease-laden, but ok. The crepe was different from other vietnamese crepes I've had - most were like frittatas with bean sprouts, shrimp, and chicken cooked into the egg mixture. The crepe at saigonese was extremely thin and fried to a crisp, then folded over with the sprouts, shrimp, and chicken in the middle (but not mixed in with the egg). It almost reminded me of a really thin taco shell with the fillings inside of it. The fillings were pretty good, but the crepe itself was kind of greasy.
So, overall, I would say that my favorite items at Saigonese were of the non-fried variety. On my way home from work tonite, I picked up some more bahn mi for dinner, and that remains my favorite thing so far from the restaurant. We also tried some of their fresh spring rolls with our bahn mi tonite, and I liked those better than the summer rolls we had when went there for dinner (more variety in the fillings and peanut sauce to dip them in).