Saigon Alley – Affordable Vietnamese Cuisine at Novena
A step into Saigon Alley brings one into a modernize yet rustic restaurant, with concrete walls filled with graffiti. The layers of advertisement stuck onto the wall drew similarities to the street walls of Hanoi. As it is located at Novena Gardens, the cozy layout allow for a convivial atmosphere, and stayed true to its casual concept, making it the perfect watering hole for the office crowd, and late night partygoers.
Opened in July 2016, Saigon Alley offered a wide variety of Vietnamese cuisine. Northern Vietnamese Beef Salad ($12) is one of the appetizer that really open up one’s appetite. The beef was pink and tender, while the salad was tossed with sweet and sour dressing.
Taking a bite into the Lot Leaf Beef Roll ($10), my mouth was filled with flavorful and juicy minced beef. The fragrance of the lot leaf enhanced the flavors of the spices that the minced beef was seasoned with. Their menu also included other appetizers such as Pomelo and Prawn Salad ($10), and Crab Spring Rolls ($8).
Spicy Australian Sliced Beef Noodles ($14) is one of the signature main dish from Saigon Alley. Hailing from the central city of Hue, it showcases a broth made of beef bones and brisket which is boiled for 8 hours into a beef stock, and served with beef slices. A heartwarming feeling was brought about upon taking a spoonful of the strong and savory beef broth. Additionally, optional sides such as beansprouts and lime could also be added to enhance the flavors.
You could also order some dishes such as the Roasted Chicken with Vietnamese Fish Sauce ($12), Crispy Pork Belly with Tamarind ($12) and Saigon Prawns in Coconut ($15). The Crispy Pork Belly with Tamarind was crispy and non-greasy. Nonetheless, I thought it was slightly too dry and could use a little more tamarind sauce.
On the other hand, the Saigon Prawns in Coconut caught my attention. It was my first time having warm coconut juice and it was truly a refreshing experience. The onions, spring onions and Chinese celery leaves further enhanced the sweetness of the young coconut.
For the health conscious, Saigon Alley Banh Mi ($9) would make a great guilt-free yet satisfying meal. Filled with pan-fried sliced pork, ham and other ingredients, the chicken liver pate is one ingredient that cannot be missed. The chicken liver pate brought an interesting texture to the banh mi, but I felt it was a tad too dry for my liking.
The meal ended with Fried Banana stuffed with Ice Cream and topped with mixed fruits ($5). The name was probably too long, and there weren’t mixed fruits. Wrapped in a spring roll skin, there was banana and jackfruit. The jackfruit was not too strong in taste. The chocolate ice cream and sauce went well with the banana, bringing a chocolaty-sweet touch to this dessert.
Note: This is an invited tasting.