Chicago's hidden treasure-- amazing Vietnamese food!

What can I say about New Saigon restaurant in Chicago's Uptown? The food is absolutely *awesome*! My fiancee and I had the shrimp and pork spring rolls (the 4th appetizer on the menu) and they were perfect-- fresh, crisp and tasty, and the shrimp was not at all overcooked-- very, very good. I had the Ca Thó Tô - the catfish hotpot and this was so-o-o delicious! The pieces of fish were extremely fresh and just melted in my mouth. The spicy, brothy sauce inside the clay hotpot was very comforting and perfectly complementary to the fish. I am so happy I ordered it. To drink, I had cà phê sữa đá (vietnamese iced coffee), and I enjoyed it so much because it was very strong and had just the right amount of sweetness (didn't taste like coffee-flavoured candy like the iced coffee at the thai and vietnamese restaurants in the white-boy neighbourhoods). My fiancee had a shrimp and marinated beef over rice dish (I don't remember the name). This was also super good. I really enjoyed how the beef was so tender and juicy, and how it wasn't drowned in sauce.

The restaurant seems to be pretty popular, I'd say. There are not many tables (maybe 10?) and although it almost relatively empty when we arrived (18:30 on a Friday), there were no tables available at all when we left. Many of the customers who came in greeted the owner by name. I can understand why this is-- the owner is SO nice and so friendly. My fiancee and I both felt really welcome and comfortable.

I heard about this restaurant on yelp.com, and there are a couple of not-so-good reviews on there-- many focusing on the unimpressive interior decor, complete with silk flowers and kitschy vietnamese trinkets, christmas and halloween decorations and a Michael Jackson poster. This does not bother me one tiny bit, though, and in fact it's exactly what I had hoped for. Indeed, if your prefer the fancy-schmancy, city night-life type of restaurant, you probably won't like this, but then again you probably don't find authentic, east asian home cooking all that important either!

This restaurant won't get my 5-star rating because that is reserved for only the world's finest. I will not hesitate to patronise this establishment again in the future, however, and I will definitely recommend it to all my friends. Non-pretentious, nice people and wonderful food! Terrific.

New Saigon - 5000 N. Broadway (Broadway and Argyle) Chicago, IL 60640 - (773) 334-3322

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