New Miss Saigon Set to Offer Spicy Eats and Boba Treats Downtown
November 12, 2013
by James J. Jefferies
“Maybe it’s a pheromonic thing, like love at first sight, but for me, nothing beats a good bowl of pho. Take me to that special place where everything is beautiful, and nothing hurts.” -Anthony Bourdain
Bourdain’s passion for this dish is mirrored right here in the Old Pueblo. For nearly a decade, Tucson’s own Miss Saigon has been racking up Best of Tucson awards steadily, attracting diners with their well-renowned menu of Vietnamese dishes, including the infamous pho noodle soup, which consists of a steaming hot bowl of broth, very skinny rice noodles, rare slices of beef, beef flank, and tripe. Said bowl is typically garnished with mint leaves, a squeeze of fresh lime, cilantro, bean sprouts, green onions, jalapenos, and a nice jet of Sriracha. It’ll fill your belly and clear out your sinuses like nothing else!
Now, Miss Saigon is opening up a brand new Downtown Tucson location, within the existing Arizona Hotel space. The new location is set to “open up within a couple of weeks to a month,” according to Miss Saigon’s Tina Nguyen. This restaurant seems set to provide a compelling new dining alternative to a bustling Downtown area that doesn’t sport a lot of Asian options.
If pho doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s a variety of different items sure to satisfy, from appetizers like traditional chilled rice-paper spring rolls with vegetables, shrimp, or pork, along with fried egg rolls, chicken wings, tempura shrimp, and fried calamari. Other soups featuring chicken broth and a whole spate of different fresh, tasty ingredients are also to be found, including catfish, shrimp, and imitation crab meat.
Eaters who may be making their first foray into Vietnamese cuisine may find some of the rice dishes a logical first step, as they are usually served in a manner similar to Chinese dishes, family style, piled up on a large platter with fragrant Jasmine rice. Again, a wide array of dishes awaits, all generally offering powerful, unexpected flavors that evoke other spheres of Asian food, but there is a compelling, delicious thing happening here that makes Vietnamese cuisine really special.
These dishes tend to be served without the typical drenching of heavy sauces and greasy texture common in American mall-style Chinese cooking, and the emphasis on fresh ingredients, spiciness, herbs, and complex combinations of those elements results in an original and distinctive cuisine very much worth the exploration. If you’re burnt out on that sad-looking tri-divider plate of orange chicken you regularly scarf in the food court, this is the kind of mouth-watering adventure you’ve been denying yourself for far too long. Additionally, Vietnamese food tends to be an extremely friendly one for vegetarians, and the menu here is no different, with all manner of different soups and rice dishes to cater to those wishing to avoid meat, with tofu available as well.
Of course, no meal would be complete without something cold and sweet to accompany the meal, especially in our sweltering Sonoran summers. Miss Saigon features a lengthy menu of boba drinks, the wildly-popular Asian beverages that come sealed in a plastic cup with a layer of tapioca beads at the bottom, to be slurped through the fattest straw you’ve ever used. (These originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, if you’re curious.) They are sweet and enjoyable to chew on, and the drinks themselves come in a ton of different flavors, and with varieties such as icy slush and blended snow, tea, and milk tea.
The new Miss Saigon seems poised to fill a terrific spot in a Downtown Tucson food scene already bursting at the seams with excellent new locales. Miss Saigon is at 47 N. Sixth Avenue, directly west of the Ronstadt Transit Center.