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Little Saigon, Montclair


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I have also been there a few times since its opened; most recently yesterday. The food is sublime - I definitely recommend the sweet potato "nest" - but I would concur that the service is scatterbrained. The waiter seemed a little tired and uninterested last night, but it probably stems from the fact that he was the only server there in a nearly packed restaurant! Service improvements still need to be made.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The new Little Saigon has been open for a few months now, and I lament that the service hasn't improved in that time. The food is delicious, of course, but I'd only eat there at lunch, or early in the evening--when the dining room is sparsely populated, it's much easier to grab your waiter. Oddly, LS is one of the few restaurants I've found nonverbal communication with the waitstaff (my "waiter fu" :raz: ) to fail.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Went solo style for lunch today. Had beef with lemongrass over rice. Nice little spice to it. Need to go back with a group to sample more items.

Used to live on Grove St just past Lackawana when I was a resident at Mountainside. Too bad this place wasn't open then. About a 10 minute walk, this place could have been a regular place.

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Little Saigon has been open for 4 months now, and I finally made it over there. And you know what? It lived up to its (new) reputation--great food, terrible service. When that room is 75-80% full on a Tuesday night and they have ONE waiter and two runners, Houston, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

At the end of the meal, we had a small bowl of wonton soup (for my niece), the sweet potato nest (YUMMY--while it was hot--but I'd love to have a few more shrimp ), and a very mild beef with egg noodle dish (ordered with the 3.5 year-old in mind). The chicken curry dish that my brother and I were looking forward to (for the spice) never arrived, and since it took a solid 8 minutes before we even saw THE waiter again, we then just asked for the check. And waited another 10 minutes before we saw him again (yes, I was timing it as I sat there while my bro walked around with my niece). Finally walked out to the 'bar' and told the gentleman there that we couldn't wait any longer for our check, and he totalled up what we had.

My brother's comment as we left... "Well, it certainly was exactly what you said you had heard about it--great food, awful service. At least I have the take-out menu for the next time I want Vietnamese food!"

Sad, sad, sad. And in a restaurant town like Montclair, I honestly hope they can survive solely on good food, because all I heard around us were people complaining that they couldn't get a (THE) waiter's attention. On a positive note, I was pleasantly surprised by how big the place was, and although it was simple decor, it is clean and light. I'll certainly go back--but for takeout.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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It lived up to its (new) reputation--great food, terrible service. When that room is 75-80% full on a Tuesday night and they have ONE waiter and two runners, Houston, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

Frankly it amazes me they haven't taken corrective action after Corcoran's review.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Ditto. And I wonder if it's possible that not one person on the planet who knows the owners or is related to them hasn't said "Gee, you'd better do something or you're not going to be able to stay in business!" SIGH...

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Maybe help is hard to find?

Lalezar, up the street on Bloomfield Ave., has had a "Help Wanted" sign up for well over a month.

A restaurant in my town has had one up for easily 3 times that long.

I'm not sure what to conclude from this admittedly small evidence, let alone whether Little Saigon even understands that they need more staff.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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  • 1 month later...

My dad was in town this weekend and he's a serious fan of Vietnamese food and we were in Montclair, so the stars aligned, and we went to Little Saigon. I'm happy to report that lunch on a weekend is a good time to go to LS...with only a few tables occupied, they actually seemed to be able to handle us! The four of us shared the summer rolls, and even my niece at half of one, enjoying the 'dip.' My dad added Sriracha (sp?) sauce to his so he could get some kick, and pronounced the rolls to be good. For lunch, he ordered one of the phos...sorry that I don't remember which one, but he enjoyed it immensely, and has eaten pho in Asia, so I trust him when he says it's good. I had the ginger and lemongrass beef with rice vermicelli, which is served with lettuce leaves for wrapping. I promptly declared that it's the asian version of (Indian) siek kabobs! :laugh: The meat was just delicious--very moist and flavorful. My sil had tofu and string beans that she said were very good.

Happy to see that the service is better when they're not packed, but I'm still going to stick to lunch whenever possible (+ takeout).

Oh, and they painted! The entire inside is now a beautiful aqua.

Edited by Curlz (log)

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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  • 3 weeks later...

FINALLY ate here today, for lunch (amazing it took me so long, since both my sister and nieces, and my brother, ALL live in Montclair so I'm in that town several times a month).

I'm wondering how much worse the service USED to be, because it STILL wasn't great.

The problem, for me at least, was that the server barely spoke English (he was hispanic though, not Vietnamese). This manifested itself most annoyingly when we had to point to the menu to get him to understand our order, and later on with two failed attempts to get him to understand we wanted him to bring us some mustard (don't ask... let's just say one of my nieces is an insane fan of mustard).

The server also absented himself from the table completely between courses. We weren't drinking a lot of water, but if we had been those absenses would have been cause for real annoyance.

But the food was really really good--at least the things I tried. The spicy beef with lemongrass (my order) was top notch, and had a nice kick as well. The vegetable soup (a kind of mixed greens soup) was fantasticly subtle.

Please note: if you are there for lunch with children, and they offer you a kids lunch plate, refuse it. It's the same price as the "regular" lunch, and its less food. The "chicken burger" it comes with is a bit bland, although it also comes with a pair of really excellent shrimp and beef skewers, as well as a monster load of surprisingly decent french fries, and a soda. But the normal lunch order is STILL more food, even if a good part of it is rice. :raz:

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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  • 4 weeks later...

I took my wife for dinner on Friday night a couple of weeks ago. The food was delicious, and the service was better than I expected.

Before that dinner, my only other experience at Little Saigon was for late lunches on Thursday afternoons. Tough place to have lunch during the week with a time restriction. It doesn't seem to matter if they are busy or not--the service is simply slow.

Things went smoothly on Friday for dinner, and the place was packed. I'm not sure if they've hired extra help, but service was not a problem.

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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  • 10 months later...

Some new Little Saigon photos:

gallery_2_550_4488.jpg

Storefront

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Spring Rolls

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Summer Rolls

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This was an appetizer special, glutinous rice dumplings with pork and shrimp with some type of sliced chicken roll meat on top. Very good.

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Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp, my favorite of the evening.

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Rice Noodle Salad with Pork

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Beef Roll Wrapped with Special Leaf (we never found out what the Special Leaf was, but it imparted an interesting flavor to the dish)

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Coconut Sticky Rice with BBQ Chicken

It may have been due to the fact that it wasn't as busy as usual because of the really hot weather and Father's Day, but it seems that they have their service issues pretty much ironed out.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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  • 1 month later...

Uphill alert! Went here a few weeks ago for lunch on a Saturday and got some lunch specials, and the food was better than ever. Wonder if they got a new cook or something. This was the first time I'd say with confidence that it was 100% as good as it used to be back in Nutley (instead of just 80% or 90%). Or maybe even better. Plus, it was only around $7 for each us.

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