Well Little Saigon is a bit like that, although not as good.
The Bigg Market in Newcastle is known for many things, and as much as I love the site of women in sailor outfits defecating from their mouths in door ways, it isn't exactly my favourite place in the city. And it certainly has it's hand in portraying all the wrong stereotypes about Newcastle, but there are certain good things to be found there and no, Blu Bambu, I am not looking at you.
Little Saigon is a Vietnamese restaurant located in the Bigg Market and although its decor fits into the dated, themed restaurant styling and vague tackiness of it's locations the food is a million miles away from take away kebabs and cheesy chips.
We went to Little Saigon at 6 o'clock on a Saturday, on match day. God even at that time being in town is a struggle. As well as the many drunken revellers outside the restaurant was fairly busy. I did get the sense that the service, which was very efficient and suited us at the time as we were in a rush, was making the effort to get us in, eaten and out as quick as possible. And the food sort of reflected this, quick service pots of pre made sauces easy to serve to lots of tables on heavy rotation.
Several of us got the Caramel Pork, £7.95, which is slow cooked in a clay pot and means the pork is really tender and the sauce is full of flavour. The issue was the sauce had a gloopy texture, similar to that of chinese take aways from up and down the country - it automatically makes it seemer cheaper. It does however make the rice (Steamed £1.95) go sticky thus easier to pick up with chop sticks, little tip for you there.
|Little Saigon, Caramel Pork, £7.95|
|Little Saigon, King Prawn Sate, £10.50|
Although all this food was perfectly acceptable, at a reasonable price (but i'm sure it used to be cheaper and better) when I have food like this i always think i'd prefer to have a few starters rather than a single main meal. I want to try lots of things and for some reason the little dishes, often deep fried and involving pastry are so tempting. I had been here with a large group before and we shared all the dishes, starters and mains, and was definitely a more enjoyable way of eating. The same applies the first time I went to what was then Barn Asia, being a little strapped for cash meant we got 4 starters to share with some sides and it was all so tasty, duck dumplings and their famous scallops and caramel pork dish but don't get me started on how tasty they are.
Now that i've been here a few times, i'd definitely say that over time the food has gone down hill, it still makes for a nice enough dinner but at the price you could find better elsewhere (and not have to deal with the drunks outside). But we did get 30% off our total bill and free bottle of hideous wine because it was either Little Saigon's birthday or anniversary or some kind of occasion. I wasn't sure but when a main, rice and beer come to £10 I wasn't asking.
Little Saigon, 6 Bigg Market, Newcastle, NE1 1UW, 0191 233 0766