Saigon Flavors

Written by Scott Joseph on .

saigon_flavorsThe first thing you’re likely to notice about Saigon Flavors is that it isn’t in downtown Orlando or anywhere near the intersection of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive. That neighborhood, which locals have unofficially called Little Saigon for years, has the city’s greatest concentration of Vietnamese restaurants.

Now Saigon Flavors is taking Vietnamese cuisine farther afield, to the northeast and Oviedo, where it has set up in a new, small strip mall. SF is not totally divorced from the downtown Vietnamese community: the owner, Charlie Tang, was the proprietor of Viet Garden in that old neighborhood (officially dubbed the very non-ethnic Mills50).

Pho Vinh

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Pho VinhRemember when all of Orlando’s Vietnamese restaurants (OK, both of them) were located within a block of the intersection of Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue? Even today with our much larger collection of restaurants specializing in the cuisine of Vietnam, most are still in that immediate vicinity.

But back in 2003 (and I for one am having a hard time believing it was that long ago) Pho Hoa opened on Primrose Drive. Sure, it was only a mile away, and just south of Colonial Drive, but I saw it as a bold move to step away from what most locals referred to as Little Saigon.

Now Pho Hoa has a new Vietnamese restaurant neighbor (a Littler Saigon?). Pho Vinh is the new kid on the block, and it’s already a favorite Vietnamese restaurant of mine. The decor is bright and tidy, the servers are friendly and efficient, and the food I sampled was first-rate.

Anh Hong

Written by SJO Staff on .

Anh Hong Vietnamese restaurant; quality takes a dive

I had the most unpleasant dining experience at Anh Hong the other night. Anh Hong, you may recall, is a past winner of Foodie Awards for best Vietnamese cuisine. There wasn't a thing about my recent visit that I would call positive, not the food, not the service and especially not the atmosphere.

And by atmosphere, I don't mean just the decor, which, to be sure, was dreary and had an unkempt and worn appearance. I also include the loud, head-banger music that was blaring in the restaurant, which apparently was being plaAnh Hongyed merely for the benefit of the server. Perhaps the owner figured that with the server's don't-give-a-damn attitude, playing his music was the only way to keep him there. (I say let him go.)

Even without the heavy metal, the food would not have been acceptable. My guests and I started with the Hanoi crepes, which the menu said included pork. But there was so little meat inside the largely bland pancakes that a vegetarian could have eaten them without guilt. We also had the summer rolls, with a smidgen of shrimp inside. They tasted as though they had been made some time before.

For my entree I had the rice platter with beef marinated in wine. There was little evidence of butter ins the sauce, as promised. One of my guests had the beef noodle soup, which was short on noodles and beef.

And to think I once awarded this place my Foodie Award for best Vietnamese. It's interesting that the plates the food was served on bore the name of Viet Nam Town, the now-closed restaurant across the street. Same owners, someone told me. If the food and service at that restaurant had dropped to the same level as it has at Anh Hong, it's no wonder it has closed.

Anh Hong is at 1124 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. The phone number is 407-999-2656.