Once in a while, Boston's Hidden Restaurants finds a great dining spot that is so hidden, so totally unknown, that we are hesitant to tell anyone about it, and Saigon Restaurant (formerly known as Saigon Hut) in East Boston is just such a restaurant. Located in Eagle Hill, a pleasant neighborhood that is also home to the great Italian restaurant Rino's Place as well as a favorite Mexican spot called Angela's Cafe, Saigon Restaurant is a tiny hole in the wall that rivals some of the best Vietnamese dining spots in the Boston area.
Family-owned and operated, Saigon Restaurant is a friendly little place with a few small tables in a simple room that looks out toward a bustling East Boston street. The space is generally uncrowded and quiet, with locals mostly frequenting the place along with an occasional diner from outside the area who is "in the know" when it comes to hidden spots. A mirror along one wall makes the restaurant appear just a bit larger than it is, but there's no mistaking that this is a shoebox-sized eatery that unsurprisingly does a big takeout business.
Authentic Vietnamese food is the name of the game here, though Thai and Chinese dishes and other Asian fare can also be found on the menu. The fresh spring rolls with chicken, mint, and tightly wrapped (and crispy) wonton wrappers are outstanding, as is the pho with flank steak and meatballs, the spicy vermicelli with beef (or chicken), lemongrass, and hot chili peppers, the clear noodle soup with crab meat, fish cakes, shrimp, and squid, and the steamed vermicelli with shrimp. Drinks include several excellent smoothies, with the taro smoothie being particularly good
Boston's Vietnamese restaurant scene is pretty impressive, with such standouts as Pho So 1 Boston in Dorchester and Randolph, Pho 2000 in Dorchester, and Pho Hoa in Dorchester, Chinatown, Malden, and Quincy. And Saigon Restaurant competes quite nicely with all of these--and like the others, it is extremely low-priced, with dinner for two often being under $30 including apps and drinks. Add to that easy street parking and a friendly staff and you have yourself a winner that also happens to be about as much of a hidden gem as you'll find.
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