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Saigon Cuisine Vietnamese Restaurant

By Dining Out Team
May 27 - June 2, 2012

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Always wonder what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite restaurant? Well, much credit goes to the many chefs, owners and managers who work diligently day in and day out to make sure Hawaii’s diners have a top-notch dining experience.

This week, Dining Out got the inside scoops from Saigon Cuisine Vietnamese Restaurant’s owner Jennifer Tran, who gave us a little taste of Saigon Cuisine and shared just what fuels her culinary drive.

Name: Jennifer and Taylor Tran
Title: owner/chef of Saigon Cuisine
Training/education: Taylor learned to cook by growing up in the restaurant business and working at several restaurants.
Years at restaurant: One year

Who or what inspires you as a chef/manager/owner? Our family loves food and loves to eat out. Taylor loves to cook. We would eat out during the week, but Sunday was a big family dinner, with Taylor cooking for 30 people! He always puts effort into removing the oil from his pho to make a clear broth that was healthy and flavorful too. Taylor’s parents had a food stand in Vietnam, so he grew up in that business. When we first moved to Hawaii we opened a Vietnamese restaurant, but closed to start a family. Now we are happy to have this restaurant, and offer fast, healthy and affordable home-cooked food!

What’s your most popular dish? Our Vermicelli Noodle bowl with spring rolls and sirloin pork is very popular. The pork is marinated for flavor, and the fish sauce to pour over the whole thing is our house-made recipe. Our pho is also very popular. The Combination Pho has everything – rare steak, tendon, tripe, brisket, flank and beef balls. The Seafood Pho or Chicken Pho are good for people who don’t feel like eating red meat.

Is there a dish that you create that’s not on your menu, but available upon request? We are always creating new dishes and letting our family try our creations first. We haven’t put these on the menu yet, but if we get a good response we would love to add them. The first is a fresh udon in beef or chicken broth. We make the udon fresh and top the dish with seafood or pork. It’s a good alternative to pho! The second is a Vietnamese “spaghetti,” which is our take on a traditional Vietnamese dish. Instead of rice noodles, we use spaghetti and top it with shredded pork, shredded cucumber, bean sprouts, peanut sauce, and pour coconut milk and fish sauce over the top. It’s a cold dish that is very fresh, kind of like a salad. We can do half or full orders of this so people can try.

What is the biggest compliment you’ve ever received as a chef/manager/ owner? Just recently a customer said our broth is so clear and delicious, and he can taste the herbs and spices! Taylor is very careful to remove the oils from the pho to make it as healthy as possible. The customer also said the rare, thinly sliced steak for the pho tastes fresh and the meat is soft, not tough. Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz has visited us a couple of times as well! He came with his family and ordered the crab noodle soup and winter rolls. He was very nice and said the food was delicious!

If you could serve food to a celebrity, who would it be and why? What dish would you serve? The cast of Hawaii Five-0! I used to watch the old show when I was younger and we still watch the new version. We would love to cook for everyone, especially McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin). I would serve them the 4 season rolls, which are healthy with lots of veggies, and pho, of course!

Saigon Cuisine Vietnamese Restaurant

  • Where
    • 1408 Liliha Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96817
  • Call
    • (808) 521-6888
  • Hours
    • Tuesday – Saturday
    • 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.
    • Sunday – Monday
    • 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
  • Notes
    • Takeout orders available. Parking available in rear of restaurant.