Omnivore - Saigon Basil: Please ditch the Styrofoam

Gooey noodles and soggy spring rolls


I love Saigon Basil. I've been addicted to their bun dish with pork, shrimp and spring roll ever since they opened a few years back (#7 on the menu). The inexpensive Vietnamese dishes are a good alternative to typical fast food. And you don't have to drive to the suburbs to get it.

However, I was peeved when they swapped from using plastic takeout bowls to Styrofoam containers. I just hate eating off of Styrofoam. It's partly a psychological thing and it's partly a "green" thing for me (although I have no idea if the plastic bowls were any greener). In any case, I started to back off from my often twice-weekly meals at Saigon Basil.

We all know that Styrofoam containers can steam some food into goo. Today, when I opened my container not 10 minutes after buying it, I was confronted with a huge mound of unbelievably custardy, over-cooked noodles — a texture my friend Ryan calls "gluggy." My spring roll was soggy without a single bite of crispness. I doubt that the 'foam could produce such a radical effect in so little time. But maybe.

I called the restaurant and told the manager about it. He urged me to come by then or in the future for a free replacement. I declined, since my objective was simply to let him know that the kitchen is turning out icky noodles.

I hope they get things in order, although I'm doubtful they will resume using the much better bowls.

FOODIE SITING: I ran into Andy Alibaksh — owner of Apres Diem, Carroll Street Cafe, and Amuse — while I was at Saigon Basil. So now you know where prominent restaurateurs go when they want fast food.