This seems to be the week-end of not getting to dine where we’d planned. Saturday night we ended up at an AYCE Asian place that was not up to par and Sunday we’d looked forward to a bánh mì for lunch at Marda Vietnamese Sub. Unfortunately when we pulled up we saw that they were closed, odd considering the signage stated they were open on Sundays, interestingly they also had signage that stated they were not. We headed to 17th Ave. to see what we could find there to satisfy our craving.
We ended up at Golden Bell Saigon, a little Viet place that also serves some Thai food. The staff was quick to seat us (actually wave us in from a distance to be accurate) and we took a look at the menu. The selection is quite good and they had many things we enjoy, Nancy chose to try the pho while I was still in the mood for bánh mì and despite what seemed like a rather high price ordered the satay beef. To drink we had a smoothie and a bubble tea, which was of the powdered variety rather than fresh fruit, unfortunate for Nancy but I don’t mind too much. We started off with an order of shrimp salad rolls as well.
The salad rolls and drink were out right away. The rolls came in a set of three with one thoughtfully cut in half for us. These were very basic rolls and consisted of shredded lettuce, vermicelli and shrimp loosely wrapped in drying rice paper with no carrot, bean sprouts, mint or cilantro, not what we’d hoped for. the nuoc leo dip was passable but little was given. the drinks were nice and pretty much what we’d expected although the bubble tea was served in a beer glass which I found interesting. Nancy’s pho was hot and she said it had a flavor she did not recognize, after tasting it I’m guessing they have a different recipe and we both found it tasty. My sandwich was less than expected and was perhaps six inches long and was prepared with the least amount of filling possible. The bun was fresh , warm and crispy with a nice tender crumb inside. There was a small amount of what was good tasting and tender satay beef but with only a single sprig of cilantro and a sprinkling of do chua, for the more than 6 bucks we paid it was not in any way a good value. We can find loaded and great tasting bánh mì throughout the city that are on 8 inch baguettes with twice the fillings for less so this will not be a place we’d recommend if you want a good sub for a good price.
The service was okay but while the food came out fast and the server checked up on us a few times we had to flag her down for the bill and then after more than ten minutes we needed to approach the bar ourselves to pay it.
Our impression of Golden Bell Saigon is mixed, we find the quality fairly high aside from the lack of care shown in putting the food together but are less than pleased by the small servings, cutting of corners and high prices. Maybe this is what we can expect on 17th ave. we’ll have to find out, but if so then anyone who dines on the red mile needs to go a little farther and will find it’s well worth the trip east for good Viet food at acceptable prices.