I’m going to take a controversial stand – I prefer Saigon Grille over Superior Pho. I seem to crave pho on Mondays, when Minh Anh and Superior Pho are closed. A few weeks ago I was craving a banh mi, so I hit Google and searched for a restaurant that offered them. Number 1 Pho was open, but they only serve pho – not banh mi. The restaurant one door over from it did and was open all day from 10 a.m. to midnight, which was great because I was eating a late lunch at 2 p.m. After eating at Superior Pho today and ordering a similar pho and banh mi meal I can unequivocally say that I prefer the banh mi at Saigon Grille over Superior Pho (although the meal at Superior Pho was about $5 cheaper). Both restaurants serve outstanding pho, but if you want an outstanding banh mi I suggest you try Saigon Grille’s and see if you agree.
Saigon Grille is a small unassuming storefront right near Superior Pho and Number 1 Pho. Parking is available in the back off E. 31st street (caution: one way street), but I parallel parked on E. 31st and walked down to the cheerful door. I’m glad I did, because they have a little shrine right inside the door with incense, candles and a roll on a plate. It lent some major atmosphere to the place.
I was quickly seated, and the waitress quickly brought me a glass of water. I ordered my banh mi (A7) and P22 (Pho Tai Nam, which is rice noodle soup with eye round steak and well done flank steak). Since Saigon Grille serves Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, I ordered one of my favorite beverages (a Thai ice tea) to drink and was surprised to see that they served it as a bubble tea.
The banh mi was heavenly. You can choose between pork, chicken or ham, but if you don’t specify you get pork. Unless you are Jewish I don’t know why anyone would order anything but the pork. The grilled, charred smokiness combined really well with the bright and fresh vegetables. The bread was crusty without being difficult to bite into. It was, frankly, a little bit of heaven. I prefer the roll at Superior Pho, but since the sandwich contents themselves are so delicious I’ll happily eat it.
The pho was also delicious. I dressed it with the Thai basil, bean sprouts and squirt of fresh lime wedge that accompanies pho at any restaurant you order it. The soup was perfectly prepared. The noodles weren’t overcooked, and there was just enough meat to enjoy with every bite. I can still taste the lime. The serving was plentiful and I ended up taking over half of it home with me to enjoy that evening.
3142 Superior Avenue East
Cleveland, OH 44114