BONAIRE -- Walking into Saigon Noodle House, there were aromas aplenty and sounds much the same. Stir fry making its way to the tables gave off a loud, inviting sizzle. Overhead, an eclectic mix of funky, upbeat music made for an accepting atmosphere.
There were the smells of vegetables and shrimp being grilled, along with the scents of beef and chicken seasoned with Vietnamese seasonings. Oh, and quite a bit of conversation, clamor and laughter from patrons -- always a sign of a popular restaurant.
I wasnt sure if this was a typical day at the restaurant, but immediately I liked what I took in.
A smiling, friendly woman was welcoming upon entering, and a booth by a window was pleasant and inviting.
Was I literally in Saigon (officially now known as Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam? No, of course not. But, the humid Middle Georgia summer temperatures and delightful food being devoured at this Landing Pointe Shopping Center restaurant in Bonaire could have fooled me. But, I digress.
Looking it over, the menu alone took at least 10 minutes to comprehend, but I say that with approval. There were pages and pages of options to choose from. And the detailed descriptions of dishes were very much appreciated at my table. I dont fancy myself an expert on Vietnamese cuisine, nor do I frown upon those willing to enlighten me in earnest. Eventually though, decisions were made.
The Saigon Fresh Rolls were light, soft and fresh. The Crispy Egg Rolls were (hence their name) crisp and had a slightly greasy exterior, as expected.
For dinner we went with the Saigon Shaken Chicken, Beef on Crispy Egg Noodles, Shrimp With Soft Egg Noodles and Grilled Lemongrass Chicken.
A couple of thoughts on these dishes. The noodles were my favorite change of pace, if you will. The soft ones were light and thin; the crunchy had an expected opposite texture. I enjoyed them both a great deal.
As for the other elements, the chicken was seasoned nicely and it was plentiful. The beef, not so much. It was scarce and thin, and wasnt particularly tasty. As for the shrimp, I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was cooked just right.
Lastly, the thing I most enjoyed about all of these dishes was the freshness of all of the vegetables. Everything about them, from the bean sprouts and carrots to the bok choy and lemongrass, was very appetizing.
Ill definitely visit this Bonaire version of Saigon again.
Saigon Noodle House
Address: 402 Ga. 247 South, Bonaire
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids menu: Yes
Noise level: Medium
Price range: $2:50-$16.95
Rating: Three 1/2 stars