Saigon Alley at Novena Gardens is managed by Hidden Door Concepts, which also opens Sear Steakhouse, Mu Parlour, Spathe Public House, and Pigsfly Kitchen and Bar. Saigon Alley, as the name suggests, serves Vietnamese food.
Google Maps couldn’t find the location. So this is where Saigon Alley is: The row of shophouses is beside Revenue House; and in one of the shophouses, beside Nickledime, there stands Saigon Alley. It’s a very tiny door with a tiny signage and you may possibly miss it.
Perhaps it is because difficult to locate, when we were there on Sunday, it was quiet. In fact, they closed the space of Saigon Alley, and we ate at the space of Nickledime. We were the only customers to eat Vietnamese food.
There are several recommended items on the menu such as crab spring rolls ($8), pork banh mi (sandwich, $9), and braised pork belly ($12). Because we were there for lunch, we took the lunch set ($12) which includes (1) pho and a spring roll, or (2) banh mi and spring roll.
The spring roll is good. Crispy fresh vegetables with a ricepaper wrap that is rather chewy and starchy, giving a good balance. The dip, a spicy fermented bean with shallots, gives the roll an edge.
There are several good things in the bowl of beef combi pho ($14 a la carte). The beef ball is bursting with flavors. The Aussie beef, though overcooked, is redolent of fats that when you chew in your mouth the beef juices and pho broth give an umami feel. The broth is ok, a medium body.
At first sip, the Hue-styled spicy Australian sliced beef noodles ($14) seems better that the usual pho at first sip. The slight spiciness is like Assam laksa, but in the long run, it gets boring. And the texture of the thick noodles, as opposed to the flat glass noodles, does nothing for us; the broth doesn’t penetrate the noodles, and it remains stubborn.
A note on the service: Excellent. Smiling, friendly, swift, attentive.
Several foodies have highly recommended Saigon Alley to me. It’s quite good, but it isn’t my favorite Vietnamese pho in Singapore. Perhaps it’s because they are better for braised pork, and we missed out on it. We paid about $32 for two persons. Good value.
Overall rating: 3.656
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.