If you’re looking for authentic Vietnamese that will transport you back to the bustling laneways of Saigon (minus the motorcyclists and plastic chairs), look no further than Miss Saigon, located just a few minutes from the Shibuya crossing.
The restaurant is quaintly decorated, with a few paintings of Vietnamese landscape on the wall and plastic fruit hanging from the ceiling—an odd choice in interior design, but it works in adding to the charm of this family-run establishment. The staff are dressed in traditional ao dai and are warm, friendly and attentive. The owner and head chef is a wonderful Vietnamese woman who often comes out of the kitchen to make sure everyone is enjoying their food.
The menu is extensive, making ordering a daunting task. However, a few options stand out, such as the Gòi Ngó Sen (¥800), a salad combining lotus root, shrimp and pork, dressed with a deliciously sweet and tangy fish sauce. The lotus root gives the salad a crunchy texture while the combination of the sauce, lemon and mint garnish provides a fresh crisp taste.
Lovers of Vietnamese food will definitely be excited for the Gòi Cuón (¥750), a spring roll that consists of fresh ingredients such as herbs, cucumber, rice noodles, pork and shrimp—but is also not deep fried. Enthusiasts will know that the most important element of this dish is the dipping sauce, and Miss Saigon creates an amazing one that perfectly balances sweet and sour, with a hint of nuttiness.
The ultimate factor that determines whether a Vietnamese restaurant is worth telling your friends about is Pho. There are two key elements to a good bowl of Pho: A generous serving of herbs on top (with a wedge of lemon on the side), and being hit with the overwhelming aromas from the bowl even before tasting the soup. Miss Saigon does not disappoint in this department, serving up delicious Pho for ¥800-950. After adding in the necessary fresh chilli and tasting the soup for the first time, you’ll be hit with instant nostalgia for the time you sat by the road in Saigon in the early hours of the morning, having your first bowl of Pho and sipping on your ice-cold Vietnamese coffee.
6F Shimizu Bldg, 2-29-18 Dogenzaka, Shibuya. Nearest station: Shibuya.