Saigon on Fifth
A couple of years ago, Dennis and I ate at Saigon on Fifth with some friends and enjoyed not one, but THREE delicious sea bass dishes, all differently prepared! We had been meaning to revisit and after a tasty sample during Taste of Hillcrest 2014 and some birthday celebrations, we finally made it back!
The first birthday was for Dennis (a few months ago). The first entree was the 360 Beef, moist morsels of cubed beef. It reminded me of the beef dish we had at Pho Ban Mai, but less oily and at a slightly higher price. They were accented with crispy fried onions and plated on lettuce with rice on the side. The meat was all gone before long.
The second entree was the Creamy Basil Fish, which is the full size dish of the sampler from Taste of Hillcrest. We chose the sea bass version over the salmon when given the choice by our waiter. The fish was fall apart tender and satisfying with the flavorful curry sauce. The rice was put to good use to soak up every last bite of the yummy sauce!
After finishing our entrees, they brought out a complimentary birthday dessert. We didn't know what it was called but inside was banana cheesecake-like filling surrounded by a thicker pastry dough, only slightly flakey. We also came with a coupon from ibirthdayclub but unfortunately it wasn't accepted. I believe it's the fault of ibirthdayclub because the restaurant has confirmed multiple times that they no longer participate yet the birthday offer still shows up from ibirthdayclub emails.
More recently, we were back for another birthday for Dennis's dad. The whole family came out so we were able to sample even more dishes this time!
For starters, we had an order of the Imperial Rolls, which is basically a fancy name for eggrolls. It didn't taste special though and is quite the small portion. Fish sauce is served on the side for dipping.
We also had the Fresh Spring Rolls, a classic vietnamese type of item. The outsides are wrapped with a thin rice paper and inside is vegetables and rice noodles and boiled beef.
This was one of the tastiest appetizers. I don't know what it's called but plenty of shrimp was mixed into the filling and the outside was fried like an eggroll! Thin rice paper and water to dip it in were provided to make your own spring rolls.
The Beef Wrapped in Grape Leaves were on the other side of the table and must have been so good that they were basically GONE before we got to try them! A single order of the appetizers will not suffice for 8 diners!
The Clay Pot Fish was served with salmon. I'm a fan of clay pot because I love the savory glazed nature of the sauce. This one did not disappoint!
The Coconut Shrimp arrived IN a coconut shell! Two hands were needed to keep the lid open while fishing the shrimp out of the coconut inspired sauce inside! I liked the taste but Dennis didn't really care for the milkier sweet sauce part.
I love when Pineapple Fried Rice is served like this. Enjoy the tasty food AND save a dish at the same time!
This was the Fish of Hue with Sea Bass! Although it looks spicy red, it was mild enough for me to eat and packed a punch of chili flavor. We also reordered the Creamy Basil Fish and 360 Beef which the family loved as well. Pops also got the same birthday dessert Dennis did on our last visit.
Overall, the food here is excellent but it will cost a little more than the typical Vietnamese restaurant. Between the front area and the back is a bar so you can have a few drinks with your buds, since you're in the heart of Hillcrest! As far as parking goes, you can look for street parking or, even easier, use the Union Bank underground parking lot around the corner and have the restaurant validate for 2 hours free. Happy eats!
Saigon on Fifth
3900 5th Ave
San Diego CA 92103