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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The great pho-off: spots for Vietnamese soup on the UA campus

    Jordin O’Connor
    Jordin O’Connor/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Veggie spring rolls and veggie tofu pho at Miss Saigon and Saigon Pho

    There’s a wide array of restaurants with food from around the world near campus, but when it comes to Vietnamese food the choices are limited. The two restaurants located closest to the UA for students who are hankering for a steamy bowl of pho are Miss Saigon, located on the corner of Campbell Avenue and Speedway Boulevard, and Saigon Pho, just off of University Boulevard.

    Miss Saigon and Saigon Pho serve similar dishes, are about equidistant from the heart of campus and cost almost the same amount to eat at. But where should you spend your money? Both have strengths and weaknesses but there can only be one victor.

    Saigon Pho is a convenient restaurant to grab a bite to eat at while window-shopping on University. The portions at Saigon Pho are large and very filling, and for only 74 cents more than a dish at Miss Saigon, a diner can get three veggie spring rolls served with a delicious peanut sauce, rather than the two much smaller veggie rolls that Miss Saigon offers. However, the spring rolls at Miss Saigon hold together better, and important factor for an enjoyable experience.

    Entrees at Saigon Pho costs between $5.99 and $9.99, which is very similar to the pricing at Miss Saigon. Saigon Pho, however, offers a larger selection of veggie and real meats than Miss Saigon, including frog and buffalo curries. The size of the menu at Saigon Pho is a bit intimidating though, as it features more than 60 items.

    The selection of Vietnamese baguettes is more extensive than that offered at Miss Saigon, too, but Miss Saigon wins when it comes to flavor.

    As for the rest fo the food at the less-crowded Saigon Pho, it can only be described as decent. On the up side, you don’t have to wait for a table like on occasion at Miss Saigon, but one has to wonder why Saigon Pho isn’t usually very crowded.

    The answer is in the pho. The chicken pho broth at Saigon Pho tastes a bit too much like broth that could be found in a bowl of canned chicken noodle soup. This can be corrected by adding either hoisin or sriracha sauce, but Saigon Pho’s pho lacks the complexity and subtleness one can find at Miss Saigon.

    Miss Saigon’s fried tofu, which can be served in pho, is far superior to that of Saigon Pho, but not because of its flavor. At Miss Saigon the fried tofu comes out crispy, while not compromising the spongy texture one expects. Saigon Pho does not do this poorly by any means: Miss Saigon just does it particularly well and consistently.

    If it’s your first time trying Vietnamese food at either restaurant, you should end your meal with a boba tea, a blended, iced drink originally from Taiwan, which usually features tea or fruit flavors and contains miniature tapioca balls. It’s a draw on whose is better though, as the Boba at Miss Saigon and Saigon Pho offer virtually the same drink, and both are very tasty.

    If you should find yourself looking to expand your culinary palette this weekend, you should definitely take your money to Miss Saigon before Saigon Pho. Miss Saigon is the best tasting Vietnamese food around campus as the food is consistently delicious. But should you find yourself on University, don’t hesitate to swing into Saigon Pho and grab yourself a jumbo bowl of pho.

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Hayden @Spicy_Reptiles.

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