I love a good bowl of Phở but there is so much more to Vietnamese food than just the noodle soup.

Saigon in Mannheim has earned itself a reputation for serving a wide variety of Vietnamese fare (since 1989!), so when a friend and I felt like having a Southeast Asian meal, we decided to check it out.

We wanted to try a variety of flavours so we opted to share a medley of 4 appetisers and 1 main course.  It took us a while because the menu listed over 20 different appetisers!  The list of main courses is equally varied, with some Thai-influenced dishes thrown in.  Wine enthusiasts can choose to pair the exotic flavours of their meal with red and white wines from, for example, the Rhineland-Palatinate, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, South Africa and Argentina.

Our meal began with one small bowl each of “Phở Sài-gòn”, the beef-and-rice noodle soup, and “Bún bò Huế”, the spicy beef soup from Hue in Central Vietnam.  Since we ordered the souped noodles as appetizers, they were not accompanied by the customary side plate of fresh herbs.  Both broths tasted delicate and well-balanced, but on the mild side.  The fresh herbs would have elevated both dishes to a whole new level, so if you are a fan of Vietnamese noodles, order a big bowl to share.

The dish I enjoyed most this evening was the “Bánh bèo” – steamed rice cakes from central Vietnam.  We were presented with bite-sized savoury mouthfuls floating in a mini dipping dish filled with “Nước chấm”.  Certainly a tastier way to spend 8 Euro than on the summer rolls “Gỏi cuốn”, which were rather bland and unfortunately not worth the price of 4 Euro each.

Last but not least, we had “Bò Lá Lốt”, one of Vietnam’s popular street foods.  Minced beef wrapped up in wild betel leaves, grilled till slightly charred on the edges, and served with a side of rice vermicelli, fresh herbs and more “Nước chấm”.  A satisfying eat!

I would have liked to try the three traditional Vietnamese sweets on the menu for dessert (“Bánh bò”, “Bánh cam”, “Bánh da lợn”), but by the time we finished with our main course, there wasn’t any tummy space left.

Albeit pricey, our meal was tasty and the flavors authentic.  If you are in the neighbourhood and looking to wine-and-dine Vietnamese style in an elegant atmosphere, head over to Saigon in Mannheim.

Restaurant Saigon, Augustaanlage 54-56, 68165 Mannheim

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