Saigon Noodle House Spices
Up Enchanted Lake

By: Kevin McQuarrie
Oahu Island News

I wish I could say I’d discovered a hidden gem, but judging by the stream of regulars who walked into the Saigon Noodle House, I could tell that the word was already out.

Located in Enchanted Lake Shopping Center, Saigon Noodle House is one of those restaurants where the cuisine and service exceed expectations. Maybe you wouldn’t expect much for a restaurant in a shopping center, but you’d be wrong. This is some of the best Vietnamese food I’ve had on Oahu.

Since fried foods just seem to hit the spot best, we started with an order of spring rolls ($4.25). A heaping plate arrived in, oh, 37 seconds. The spring rolls were piping hot and served with generous portions of vermicelli, mint, cucumber and carrots, in addition to a dipping sauce. “These are very crisp and yummy,” opined my mom, visiting from the mainland. (She’s usually not that excitable about spring rolls.)

Sipping on a can of cold coconut juice, I decided to try the veggie curry tofu ($5.45). A huge plate of curry arrived, piled high on a foundation of white rice. Tofu cubes, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, onions and string beans mingled with the curry and bay-leaf flavors. It was rich and spicy, warmly delicious. Mom sampled a combination platter, choosing the eggroll/lemongrass chicken/spicy squid ($6.45)—and found a new favorite flavor in the lemongrass. We also tried the crispy noodle with shrimp ($6.50), which featured broccoli, shrimp and cabbage over a nest of stir fried noodles. The portions are huge, so not only are the entrées inexpensive to begin with, you are very likely to have a free lunch of leftovers the next day.

The restaurant also features Vietnamese-style sandwiches, served on French bread with pickle, carrot, daikon, cucumber and Chinese parsley. Light options included vegetarian ($2.25) or veggie tofu ($3.25), or if you’re in the mood for something more filling to get you through the afternoon, try the pate & steam pork ($3.25), roast beef ($3.99) or teriyaki chicken ($3.49).

Other specialties of the house include saimin and lookfun soup, and pho served in a variety of ways. You can get a giant bowl of either for about $5. Vegetarians will find plenty of options, too, including curry tofu broccoli ($5.45) or spicy tofu plate ($5.45).

Throughout our meal, the service was excellent. Our needs were immediately met and the food was delivered swiftly, yet the server did not in any way rush us. In fact, we enjoyed a very relaxed meal. Our server watched us like a hawk, anticipating our needs. Straw? Soda? He even brought me a special dish of hot sauce after I mentioned how much I like spicy food.

Speaking of spicy, we decided to cool down our palettes with a traditional dessert. The papaya tapioca ($1) and caramel flan ($1.25) are served mod-estly, in small plastic cups. They represent the best of home cooking: nothing fancy, yet delicious and satisfying.

I definitely recommend swinging by Saigon Noodle House. It’s fast, cheap, and delicious. I wish I lived next door.

Saigon Noodle House
Enchanted Lake Shopping Center