Pho At A La Saigon: Plentiful Noodles Can’t Save A Weak Broth

Although we have a couple of spots serving banh mi and other basic Vietnamese dishes in the Financial District, A La Saigon is the only place down here with a more extensive menu. I had previously tried their bun lunch special, and it was decent, but on a recent day when I wasn’t feeling well I decided a bowl of pho was just what the doctor ordered. If you dig deep into the menu, you’ll see the shop on Liberty Lane (btw. Maiden Lane & Liberty St.) offers a few types of pho, and I headed over to see how theirs compared with the solid version from nearby Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches.

My pho with beef ($9.25) was handed to me mere minutes after I ordered it. They also offer vegetarian, chicken, pork chop and beef ball versions, so there’s something for everyone. Purists will immediately scoff at the gray beef on top of the soup, but this is a quick service place and not a sit-down restaurant so I let that slide. You do get a cup of the usual pho fixings – bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime, jalapeño – although perhaps they are not as plentiful as places in Chinatown. Bottles of sriracha, hoisin and soy sauces are also scattered on tables and you may have to ask nicely to borrow one from the people next to you.

I actually liked the beef, which was thinly sliced, a little fatty, and flavored by the broth. Underneath the cap of beef, cilantro and red onion, you got a whole lot of rice noodles. Basically this whole bowl was rice noodles with a side of broth, and I would have liked a little more broth and a little less noodle in my bowl, but that was just me. The downfall of this pho was the broth, which was a little watery and not as beefy as other versions I’ve had. It’s a minor quibble since there isn’t a whole lot of the broth to begin with.

If you’re in the mood for pho, the version served at A La Saigon isn’t perfect, but it’s a good rendition. It’s also slightly cheaper than at Nicky’s a few blocks away, which has the same dish with better flavor.

A La Saigon, 8 Liberty Place (btw. Maiden Lane & Liberty St.), (212) 227-9899


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