From the outside of the shop on the corner of 11th and McKenzie, you might miss the gem that is Saigon Sally’s. Formerly known as Jimmy’s Vietnamese Sandwich Shop, the restaurant, off the beaten path as it is, doesn’t necessarily beg for attention. It’s only once you step inside that you start to see its appeal. The menus are long, bright pink affairs that are printed out and stacked up along the counter.
Aside from drinks, there are only eight items on the menu.
“There were more when I bought the place,” Brian McDonald, the new owner, said from across the counter. He has since pared it down to the more popular items.
Taking a seat, you’ll start to see even more of Sally’s colorful affair. The walls might be grey, but the ceiling is awash in color. Butterflies, colored and patterned in every imaginable way, hang from the ceiling, broken up only by delicate looking glass chandeliers.
While you get distracted by the scenery, McDonald may just flit back and forth between your table and the food being prepared. He’s diligent when it comes to his duties, bringing sauces, water (flavored with lemon), utensils, even a bowl of candy.
While the service is the most commendable part of Saigon Sally’s, that doesn’t mean the food is lacking in any way. The meat in the pho was well seasoned, and the broth had the perfect level spice: just enough to feel it. The Vietnamese sandwich, on the other hand, was the perfect marriage between sweet and spicy. The sweetness of the carrots mixed well with the spice of the jalapeños, and made it impossible to resist going in for another bite.
As the menu will point out, all dishes are served spicy. Be forewarned if that doesn’t agree with your palate.
All in all, the experience of dining at Saigon Sally’s was a memorable one. While the initial bleakness of the shop may be off-putting, don’t let it fool you. The restaurant has many surprises up its sleeves, and the food delectable.
1323 11th St., Fairhaven