Home Food + Drink Saigon Cafe: Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine in Jersey City 

Saigon Cafe: Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine in Jersey City 

by Danielle Lynch
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Sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami — the five basic tastes that have been around since the beginning of time. Umami: a term that was coined long ago, but recently gained popularity in the foodie world, describes a unique, savory flavor that can be found in meat dishes as well as heartier veggies like mushrooms, asparagus, + artichokes. Asian cuisines are no stranger to this type of flavor, especially foods hailing from the country of Vietnam.

While Vietnamese food is seemingly unfamiliar to most, pho {pronounced fuh} has become increasingly popular in the last few years and for obvious reasons. Traditional Vietnamese cuisine is unique and full of flavor and Saigon Cafe in Jersey City is no stranger to that. What better way to fill your belly + soul than with this — oh so slurp-able — soup, packed with noodles and your choice of broth and so much more. We are so in love with people and flavors of Saigon Cafe and know you will be too when you try it. Read on to learn all about this authentic Vietnamese restaurant that is taking Jersey City by storm.

saigon cafe jersey city

All About Saigon Cafe

Kim Le, the owner, hails from Cam Rahn, Vietnam, just about 200 miles from Saigon. When she moved here at 15, it was unbeknownst to her that she would bring a piece of her home to Jersey City. Her husband Dan Ly is the chef and cooks up some of the most authentic Vietnamese food we’ve ever tried. The restaurant is family owned and has been in business since 1999, way before pho was even a blip on our radars.

saigon cafe interior

The restaurant is located at 188 Newark Avenue and easy to get to from all of the surrounding areas. The authenticity of the décor and intimate lighting makes for a very pleasant dining experience. You will see that a lot of the patrons are native {so you know this is a bona fide spot to eat}. The ambiance was friendly and felt like home to so many people. For us, we were excited to try something new and unique.

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See More: The Best Soups in Hoboken {For All Your Cravings}

What’s on the Menu

saigon cafe spring rolls

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The menu is enormous, packed with different types of dishes sure to please all palates. The Saigon crêpe was recommended to us by the waitress, who boasted about its different flavors and textures. Well, it proved to be a sure-fire way to start our meal and was gone within minutes. We loved the accents of mint and pickled veggies that it was plated with, too. And how could we forget the pickled vegetables; they are unreal, different from anything we have ever tasted. They hit the spot. The same goes for the vegetable spring rolls. They were cooked to perfection and paired nicely with a spicy chili sauce. The spring rolls came with lettuce and mint leaves and Kim told us to wrap the spring rolls in the lettuce and add a mint leaf for flavor.

saigon cafe chicken pho

saigon cafe pork

As we moved through the menu, we tried a few different dishes. The pho ga {rice noodles in homemade chicken broth, loaded with chicken, green onions, cilantro, and shallots} is chock full of flavor. The pepper is subtle but still packs heat — and we love it. We also tried the bun thit nuong {grilled + sliced marinated lean pork} + bun cha gio thit nuong {same as the bun thit nuong with spring polls}.

“The little bites of Spring Rolls added the perfect amount of crunch and balanced out the rest of the textures of the dish,” Christina Richardson, friend and local foodie explained. Finally, we tried the tom ca ri mi, an egg noodle shrimp curry dish. “It packs a punch,” Chris Richardson told Team HG. “There’s a good amount of spice and it’s loaded with shrimp.” It’s a win-win.

saigon cafe dish

saigon cafe skewers

Overall, the dishes were full of flavor and life. We enjoyed every bite of our dinner and will definitely be back for more. When you are there, keep in mind that many dishes are made with peanuts. If you have an allergy, it would be best to let your server know beforehand. Also, the hoisin sauce is a must try. It’s basically a plum barbecue sauce with vibrant flavor. We could never forget the fish sauce, which is the heart and soul of Vietnamese cuisine. “[It’s] a savory, citrus-y fish sauce that gives each dish life,” boasted Ben, a Team HG hubby and taste tester — a job he takes quite seriously.

Read More: Unique Asian Supermarket in Jersey City: A Visit to 99 Ranch Market

If you are looking to shake things up a bit and venture out of your circle, Saigon Cafe is an absolute must try. The restaurant is in an accessible location and has a diverse menu with different flavors and a ton of gluten-free and vegetarian options — meaning there’s no reason to not stop in and try the menu.

Have you been to Saigon Cafe? Have a favorite dish? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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