Friday, October 10, 2008

latest obsession: green papaya salad

saigon bistro's perfectly seasoned green papaya salad: freshly shredded green papaya, topped with shredded basil + faux beef (made of tofu + other accoutrements I am not familiar with. The owner says he buys his fake meat from Japan). The marinade is sweet, saucy, slightly salty with hints of heat from the chili sauce. Just enough savory appeal is also provided by the faux beef. It really REALLY tastes like beef.....spooky.

I crave this dish about once a week.

The green papaya yields a mild + mellow flavor that is both tender yet crunchy.

For the life of me, I cannot find green papaya anywhere here.

I have found it on amazon for $20 through one of their vendors.

We recently discovered a dining hideaway called Saigon Bistro. I rarely post about restaurants in this area because for one reason or other, if it's not a chain the longevity of the establishment is up to question. With that said, call before you high-tail it over there.

Saigon Bistro is a fairly new restaurant located in one of northeast Florida's brand new precalculated strip malls. Every time we go there, the strip mall itself appears somewhat.....haunted. No patrons as far as the eye can see, well except this bistro.

The restaurant is invitingly friendly, in itself pleasant, handsomely designed and quaint.

Service is slightly shaky but the overall menu is the something to rave about since leaving California. This area is known for ethnic restaurants using the foulest of ingredients, hardly any fresh produce to appease to the meat + potatoes crowd as well as watering down it's ethnic identity in order not to scare off the daily grind. The owner/chef of Saigon Bistro stays true to his Vietnamese roots. The ingredients are absolutely fresh, lively and intrinsic to Vietnamese flavors. The menu does offer typical dishes for those in fear of eating God forbid I don't know whats, so for that bunch: egg rolls, fried rice, etc. ( ( ( y a w n ) ) ).

Aside from trying to please the timid, the menu is quite diverse and lovingly spectacular to fresh, fragrant Vietnamese cuisine.

Traditional bowls of Phở are offered in chicken, beef, veggie and more options. The delicate broth is served with a side of fresh crunchy bean sprouts, cilantro + basil alongside spices + sauces to bring it up a notch. They provide a great deal of vegetarian options as well as dishes with tofu and fake/faux meats that look and taste really like meat!

Also in true Vietnamese form......lots of BEEF options.

I have also tried the green bean salad which is stock full of crunchy green beans, veggies and only flash blanched to retain it's fresh snap.

The kitchen's hand is quite versed in delicately marinating their dishes to exquisite appeal to the sensitive palate.

We have spoken to the owner on several occasions and he is passionate about his menu, his customers and foremost Vietnamese cuisine. His passion is contagious.

My best wishes for culinary success to Saigon Bistro.

Saigon Bistro
Unit 202
3546 Saint Johns Bluff Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32224
Tel 904.645-0222


Anonymous said...

Oh it's beautiful, and sounds wonderful.

Lori Lynn said...

Sounds like a great place. Wish I had one around the corner from me, I'm craving Pho now.

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

I'm glad you found a restaurant in your area that you like. With this economy, I think NY will see a lot of restaurant closings too.

Anonymous said...

mmm that green papaya salad is lovely and sounds so healthy. LOL about those afraid of eating folks! I just love vietnamese food.

Nicole said...

Wow. I have never heard of green papaya. It looks like a pretty dish.

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Looove fresh green papaya - especially with salty condiments like fish sauce and soy. Delish!

cakewardrobe said...

I think in city I go, I always HAVE to find a good Vietnamese restaurant to make me feel like I'm home. I'll have to add this place to my list! :) Did you ever figure out how to blow up your pix?

Simply...Gluten-free said...

Sounds great, wish I had one around the corner. NExt time I am in Jacksonville I know where to go!

noobcook said...

you know what, my latest obsession is green papaya salad too ... tried the best one I ever had in Bangkok in August this year and I also hope to find some green papayas here to learn to make it one day, hehe ... the 'faux beef' topping version you had looks so interesting!

taste memory said...

noble ~ highly crave inducing!

lori lynn ~ yeah can't live without pho!

jessica ~ finally, found a mex place too as of recent......mmmmmm tacos

foodhoe ~ vietnamese=lotsa basil!

christy@ fig+cherry ~ thanks for coming by

cakewardrobe ~ hi sweetie

simply gluten free ~ yes, def call to make sure they are still open. restaurants open/shut like the breeze here

noobcook ~ really love the stuff, I can't find it though in the asian markets nearby. the restaurants must get it from their suppliers elsewhere.....