New Beginnings For Saigon Pearl
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The road to opening Saigon Pearl has been a long one. Back in 1982, within a building complex where Nordstrom now sits, Mai McDowell and her family opened a Vietnamese restaurant called Annam House.
“Originally, we were one of the first Vietnamese restaurants on the island,” says McDowell.
After a 15-year run, a few location changes and a brief hiatus; McDowell and her brothers Tai and Dung Khau came out of retirement to start anew with Saigon Pearl. Opened in August on Kona Street behind Ala Moana Center, the recent reinvention’s expansive Vietnamese menu — featuring vermicelli noodle salads (bun) and soups (bun nuoc), pan-fried noodles, rice plates, ramen, sandwiches, desserts and more — sets it apart from the rest.
For the eatery, part of starting fresh includes offering new flavors that are sure to broaden your culinary horizons. Spicy Oxtail Noodle Soup (Bun Bo Hue Oxtail) ($11.95) is a unique, fusion dish featuring spicy broth with oxtail, vermicelli noodles, chili and lemon-grass. “Nobody has this except us, I think,” says McDowell.
The family-run business aspires to introduce patrons to a wider selection of Vietnamese cuisine. “Vietnam is not famous for barbecue, but our barbecue meat is very good. We have a lot of other delicious dishes besides pho,” explains McDowell. One such dish is the BBQ Combo ($12.95), a savory rice plate with barbecue chicken, pork chop and lemon-grass short ribs.
If it’s the familiar classics you want, it’s got those covered, too. In addition to the traditional preparation, diners have long been fans of the family’s Beef Noodle Soup (pho) Combination ($7.95, medium/ $8.95, large), consisting of beef, meat balls, brisket, tendon and tripe.
Whether it’s new flavors, new dishes or a new favorite pho place you’re after, Saigon Pearl is freshening it up.
- 1430 Kona Street #101
- Honolulu, HI 96814
- (808) 955-7888
- Open daily
- 10:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.