It's no surprise that J and I are pho-natics. While Kim's Vietnamese is usually our go to for pho noodle soup, Saigon Spring excels at other classic Vietnamese dishes. My parents weren't able to come down for Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, so I wasn't able to get my share of homemade traditional foods. I had a hankering for bun thit nuong (grilled pork with rice noodles) and they make the best version of this dish up in Clifton Park. The pork is a great balance of sweet and savory with fragrant flavors of lemongrass, fish sauce, and garlic and grillled til there's a nice fatty char. Nothing is more disappointing than dry, overcooked pork but here it is juicy and mouth-watering good. But at the last minute, I had a change of heart and decided to celebrate New Year's with something more decadent.
Another favorite dish that I use to get as a kid but haven't had in ages was mi xao don aka crispy noodles. While this dish is mostly Chinese influenced, it is a popular dish at Vietnamese restaurants and would be a special occasion dish to order. What better way to celebrate a holiday that is shared among Vietnamese and Chinese cultures alike. Saigon Spring's version is a seafood medley called do bien xao xa made with a lemongrass sauce. A bed of crispy noodles is covered in an array of giant plump shrimp, scallops, and mussels sauteed in sweet and spicy sauce with hunks of peppers and onions. It's a messy dish as you try to maneuver getting shards of crispy noodles into your mouth but the sauce softens some of the noodles creating a fun mix of textures.