If a trek to Haltom City, Hurst or Arlington for Vietnamese food is inconvenient, look no farther than Camp Bowie Boulevard.
Longtime Hurst favorite Miss Saigon has opened a second location along the same resurgent west Fort Worth strip that counts Campisi’s and Little Lilly Sushi as tasty neighbors.
Called Miss Saigon Café II, this iteration is just as delightful as its Mid-Cities sis, if not more “west side,” with a menu unnecessarily translated for those among us unfamiliar with the food. With pho and banh mi sandwiches peppering the menus of practically every other restaurant it seems, do we really need the cuisine’s essence more palatably parsed?
There. That’s my one quibble about Miss Saigon II, because food-wise, the place is close to pho-nomenal. (Sorry.)
Taking a cue from more fast-casual Asian spots, it’s no-frills, order-at-the-counter. But with a bevy of glass-topped tables with white linens, the dining room is attractive and the menu is a streamlined version of the original restaurant’s more well-rounded one. The most prominent dishes are here, from the bun (“vermicelli rice noodle,” $8.50-$10.95), a delicate tangle of white noodles buoyed by your choice of meat or vegetable, to the spring rolls ($3.50 for two).
The tofu spring rolls are ideal light summer fare. Bean sprouts, lettuce and carrots proved a good textural triumvirate, and the tofu was nicely seasoned. But with our yin, we yanged to the fried side: We were just too intrigued by the salt and pepper fried tofu. The small, spicy cubes ($4.50) were a big hit, with a crispy batter and piping-hot (if not bland) interior.
A dish that gave us pause when ordering was the unfortunately named Asian’s Skinnylicious ($7.95). Shredded cabbage, carrots and cilantro were anointed with slices of chicken breast, which were slightly dry, but we figured that could be countered by the salad’s dressing. Instead of a choice of sesame-ginger dressing or carrot sauce (we weren’t asked to specify upon ordering) the salad came with an odd ration of ranch. Not a fan.
More traditional dishes were more successful. The “French inspired baguette” (that would be a banh mi, $4.95-$5.50) inspired near-swoons among our group of six, with wonderfully flavorful grilled pork going toe-to-toe with the sandwich’s standard ingredients of carrot, lettuce, onion, cucumber, cilantro and a chewy baguette.
The grilled pork bun and pho soup ($7.95-$8.95) were well-executed, with the nicely attuned white-meat chicken and garnishes proving oddly refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
The most successful entree we tried was the chef’s shaking beef bo luc lac ($10.95), best described as succulent cubes of sweetly marinated beef, stir-fried with garlic, onions and soy sauce. The sticky white rice perfectly absorbed any overflow sauce.
A few dishes seem out of place here (Lone Star wings and french fries?), but after only a month or so in west Fort Worth, Miss Saigon II and its standout Vietnamese dishes seem to be making themselves right at home.