Le Saigonnais: Vietnamese Cuisine Served with Style

Pho at Le Sagonnais
Le Saigonnais serves great pho—as it’s pleasantly large, has lots of flavour, and isn’t too fatty.

Proper Vietnamese food has finally come to Downtown New Westminster—and Le Saigonnais has brought it with style! As a resident of the neighbourhood, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the first influx of this cheap and delicious cuisine.

Le Saigonnais isn’t your typical dive that you see lining the Kingsway corridors. Instead, the owners have clearly dressed this place up. The restaurant features its own bar, leather booths, and a modern, low light, almost Zen aesthetic—almost more suited to a swanky Japanese place on Robson. The space could still do with some new carpet, but it’s still one of the fancier Vietnamese restaurants around.

Aside from shiny splendour however, I usually measure the quality of a Vietnamese restaurant based on three key dishes: pho, lemongrass chicken (or pork), and spring rolls.

Lemongrass chicken at Le Sagonnais
The lemongrass chicken is a winner: delightful presentation, a nice cut of meat and garnished with a fresh and vibrant lemongrass seasoning.

The real make-or-break dish for a Vietnamese restaurant is the noodle soup, which is called pho. For those unfamiliar, the dish consists of a seasoned beef broth with rice noodles. All Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver offer a House Special Pho, where you always get a noodle soup topped with well-done flank, sliced rare beef, soft tendon, tripe, and beef balls. If any of these don’t yet appeal to you, don’t worry—you can also pick and choose various combinations. It also comes with fresh bean sprouts, basil, lemon, and jalapeno peppers—all of which I throw directly into the broth. And make sure to top it off with some hoisin and hot sriracha sauce.

Salad rolls at Le Sagonnais
Salad rolls at Le Sagonnais didn't impress. While they were a good size, the price seemed high and the rice paper was a bit too stiff.

Le Saigonnais serves great pho—as it’s pleasantly large, has lots of flavour, and isn’t too fatty. At $7.00, it’s slightly more expensive than what Vancouverites might be used to, but I’m willing to cough up the extra nickels.

Over time, I’ve learned that for many, the slippery noodles of pho can be tricky to eat. For those friends who have yet to reach a certain proficiency with chopsticks, I often recommend the lemongrass chicken on rice. There are several takes on this dish depending on where you go—and the meat can often end up fatty, or contain some unwieldy bones. Le Saigonnais, however, really comes through with this one. Aside from the delightful presentation, they provided a nice cut of chicken, garnished with a fresh and vibrant lemongrass seasoning. It is well worth the $8.00.

Le Saigonnais Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

What didn’t quite impress were the salad rolls. Filled with lettuce, vermicelli, bean sprouts, basil, pork ham, and prawns, the dish also comes with a peanut sauce and is usually one of my favourites. The rice paper that it came wrapped in however, was a bit stiff. I’m not sure if they were premade and sat around for a while, or if they just weren’t soaked for long enough. At $6.00, they might be a bit steep, but they were a good size, and if they get their rice paper right, it should be worth another try.

Overall, Le Saigonnais has a new upscale look that goes beyond your typical Vietnamese restaurant. The pho doesn’t disappoint, and fans of lemongrass chicken will appreciate their fresh take on the dish. You might have to bring a bit of extra pocket change, but in an area that’s been starved of Vietnamese for some time, it’s worth it. I’ll definitely be back to try the spicy noodle soup—and when I do, I’ll probably give the salad rolls another go.

Le Saigonnais is located at 634 Columbia St. in New Westminster.

Been to Le Saigonnais? Let me know what you think @BryceTarling!

5 Replies to “Le Saigonnais: Vietnamese Cuisine Served with Style”

  1. Just tried this place a few days ago. A few thoughts:
    I don't think the place is licensed. Not a big deal for me, but might be good to bring it to another level.
    The Pho was indeed good. At least as good as I've had around the Lower Mainland. My wife tried lemongrass beef…usually her favorite dish. The portion was sizable, but the beef a bit tough. Spring rolls were okay, but we've had better. Overall this place should do okay. The menu needs a few more combination options….as well as pictures!

  2. I really enjoyed this place – I thought the Pho was good and the Royal City Platter was fantastic. Pork wrapped around sugar cane? Amazing! New West doesn't have very many authentically good places to go for food other than burgers/beer, so this is a nice addition.

  3. I found the place was ok. The fact that the booths are so high does guarantee privacy, but also gives the appearance of the place being empty as well. As for "not many authentically good restaurants in New West" Samantha, I suggest you check out 6th and 12 st. and Columbia as well. In these areas you will find, Chinese, Japanese, Fish and Chips, Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, Malaysian, and Sudanese, and also mongolian. Not too mention a few other niche type restaurants. Most of these restaurants are very comfortable and well appointed.

  4. Thanks for the updates. I have to say that I agree with Samantha about not having many authentically good places for anything other than burgers and beer, but I'll have to take Dave's advice and get out more!

  5. I didn't like it. Everything I had was average at best.The egg rolls were ok, skewers were ok, but I have had better lemongrass chicken/pork at Pho Ha. Personally I preferred the Thai restaurant that was there before. Will not be going back.

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