A taste of Vietnam without actually having to go there..

Of course I’ve been to Vietnam so I highly recommend a visit but if  you’re not quite ready for that then a trip to the local Vietnamese restaurant will give you a perfect taste of what you are missing out on!

Nestled in the small Yorkshire town of Ilkley is the well known Vietnamese treasure – Bistro Saigon.

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I’d heard a lot about this place before visiting, including recommendations by family members, so I thought i’d book in a visit and form my own opinion.

I had a small lunch beforehand and kept my stomach nice and empty for my dinner reservation at 7pm. I always like to be hungry when I go out for food so I can fully enjoy the dishes on offer! They always recommend you pre-book before arrival as this place can get very busy, especially on weekends.

Bistro Saigon is currently rated in the TOP 5 Vietnamese restaurants in West Yorkshire! (According to current rankings on TripAdvisor

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the restaurant was much busier than I was expecting despite it being a Tuesday evening outside of school holidays. I foolishly managed to book us a table for 2 instead of 4 but thankfully they were able to accommodate! Unfortunately this meant being seated away from the rest of the customers towards the back of the restaurant but the quiet atmosphere and nice decor meant I actually preferred it.

The staff were friendly and service was good until the restaurant began to get busier and then of course naturally it became a bit slower. But no complaints and they were polite and helpful.

Now I must admit, I am not a fan of Vietnamese food AT ALL. Being a picky eater I tend to stick to the ‘safe’ cuts of meat. I love to try new things but i’d say i’m a tad less adventurous than the average Joe when it comes to food! So when in Vietnam, the odd bits of chicken that would turn up on my plate did not go down well.. literally. In fact I ended up sticking to the rice, soup and noodle dishes just to be safe! I’m a chicken breast person and that’s just me… No thighs, legs or wings thank you very much! So I didn’t enjoy the food in Vietnam half as much as I enjoyed the spicy dishes that you find in Cambodia or the overpowering flavoursome ‘perfumed’ curries you find in Thailand.

So going for Vietnamese food is not high on my priority list. Normally i’ll stick to Chinese, Thai or Indian. Bistro Saigon completely turned this around!

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We decided to share two starters between four of us which turned out to be a good amount of food for us all. Aromatic pork ribs and Vegetarian fried spring rolls is what we chose. A small portion of each but enough to prepare us for the mains.

 

Because I always play it safe and boring by ordering chicken I decided to switch it up a little and order the bo xao xo dt (chilli beef). Beef cooked in oyster and soy sauce with lemongrass, chillies, ginger and mixed peppers.

I really enjoyed this dish it was extremely flavoursome and the beef was absolutely perfect! It really reminded me of Thai Massaman curry which is one of my favourite dishes of all time. The portion size was much bigger than expected which is always good and with a side dish of egg fried rice I have plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow! I’d describe this dish as rather salty with a kick and a very overpowering flavour. Not to everybody’s taste I know but for me I really enjoyed the meal and would recommend this dish.

A large selection of wine on offer and a separate cocktail menu if you fancy your Espresso Martini’s or Rhubarb Prosecco!

Overall, I’d say a peaceful place with tasty dishes and a great start for anyone wanting to get a taste of Vietnam. Plenty of choice on the menu and a varied selection to cater for all taste palates.

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