The Next Best Thing to a Salad: Le Saigon in Haebangchon

Le Saigon in Haebangchon. Picture by Paul Ajossi
During the summers I crave raw vegetables and a big, leafy, crispy salad. Sure, I love Korean vegetable side dishes, but they are normally blanched and salted and seasoned with garlic and sesame oil. These days I have been working til very late most days so I haven't been able to get to the market to get vegetables to make my own dinner.

The place that has been my savor these days has been Le Saigon in Haebangchon. This place is not very far from my home and the bus drops me off pretty close to it.

Besides convenience, I truly appreciate the quality of the food. I often go and get Banh Mi Sandwich or the rice vermicelli noodle bowl. The Pho is delightful as well as the broth is very rich and it doesn't taste like raw bones boiled for several hours. Oh! and they serve cilantro with the soup (which I feel is a necessity). The crew working there seem to have done their research for the noodles for the noodles are not the ubiquitous noodles found in many Pho restaurants in Korea (Pho Bay is not Pho!).

Tonight I had the Vietnamese Rice Roll Wraps. I believe they call them Wolnamssam. These were brilliant. For 16,000 won per person you get a big plate of freshly cut vegetables, cooked shrimp, avocado, sliced apples, and chicken. You also get a sizzling side platter of flavorful grilled beef, chicken, or mushrooms. After you finish your rice wraps, you get a bowl of Pho Soup.

The vegetable platter was just what I needed. The red peppers, yellow peppers, green peppers, apples, and carrots were crisp. The sesame leaves and lettuce were finely julienned and the addition of ripe avocados made my eyes water like I was seeing a long lost friend again.

The canned pineapple I could have done without but everything else was just what I was looking for. I ate a lot and I didn't feel guilty doing it.

(Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I have been traveling light these days. Paul Ajossi has some great pictures on his blog)

Restaurant Name: Le Saigon
Restaurant Type: Vietnamese
Location: Near Haebanchon Intersection
Telephone: 02-790-0336
Specialty: Banh Mi Sandwiches, Pho (great pho broth) and Vegetable Wraps
Directions: Go out Noksopyeong Station Exit 2 and go through the underground underpass and come out the left side.
Website: N/A

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