In this city, restaurants come and go faster than you can say "sustainable locavore burger." And even though there are great new additions to the culinary landscape popping up every week, you've gotta give kudos to anyone who can stick it out for over a year. With that in mind, we bring you Still Got It, our tribute to establishments that continue to serve mouthwatering meals and drinks long after the buzz has faded—or if the lingering hype is still justified.
Most pho places serve you a piping-hot bowl of bone broth, noodles, and thin slices of raw brisket that are rapidly cooked by the broth's heat as you sip (along with a side of basil, bean sprouts, limes, and jalapeños so you can customize the soup to your heart's content). But Saiguette, located in Manhattan Valley, takes pho's DIY capabilities to a new level.
(Hannah C. / Yelp)
Saiguette is fully designed for takeout: the tiny restaurant has just a few counter seats, and all the menu options—including the pho—are packaged to go, regardless of whether or not you wanted to eat in. Instead of a ready-made bowl of pho ($9.50 - $11.50), you'll be given three plastic containers: a large bowl with slices of raw brisket, tripe, tendons, and some thinly-sliced white onion; a plastic baggie full of bean sprouts, lime, and basil; and a tall, plastic container full of the delicious, delicate broth, which you pour onto the meat yourself. This fully DIY-take on pho gives you control over all aspects of your meal. Protip: opt for the classic pho over the spicy version, and order a side of sriracha so you can spice the broth to your liking.
(Gaby Del Valle / Gothamist)
As good as Saiguette's pho is, their banh mi sandwiches are far better. The sandwiches themselves are huge, but don't think this means they sacrifice quality for quantity. For a first timer, the menu can be a little daunting: they offer 11 different meat options (sorry, vegetarians). If you've never experienced the joy that is a well-made banh mi, order the classic ($8)—it has an ideal ratio of meat to pickled veggies, and a generous helping of pork terrine and pâté. Otherwise, check out my personal favorite: the pork belly banh mi ($10), which has the perfect amount of fatty, juicy pork belly, pickled carrots, jalapeño and daikon, and sriracha mayo. The grilled lemongrass pork shoulder ($9) and grilled spicy shrimp ($10) are also worth checking out.
Order some taro milk tea with boba ($4.50) on the side. If you're sensitive to spice, the tea is essential for soothing your palate (and if not, it's just really, really good). For an optimal dining experience, grab your sandwich and boba and head to Central Park, just a block away, for an outdoor lunch. If you really want to eat in, head to the east side and check out Vietnaam, which has the same owners and features many similar menu options.
Saiguette is located at 935 Columbus Avenue, between 105th and 106 Streets in Manhattan Valley. 212-866-6888