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Nothing to Beef About

By Terri Hefner Photos By Nathalie Walker
July 1, 2012

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In Vietnam, many people enjoy a bowl of pho for breakfast, slurping the warm, satisfying soup before beginning their day.

Of course, pho is delicious any time of day — lunchtime, dinnertime or even as an evening snack. But the one thing that may make non-meat eaters hoof it right past a pho shop is that it is typically made with beef broth, so unless the eatery is willing to accommodate, you’re out of luck.

Enter Saigon Cuisine. “We want everybody to eat what they like,” says Jennifer Tran, who owns the restaurant with husband Taylor. And when it comes to pho, customers have three options: beef, chicken or vegetable broth. “Just ask for vegetarian only,” she adds.

And that’s no bum steer. Vegetable Pho ($6.95 medium, $7.50 large) is filled to the brim with tofu, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, white and green onions all swimming in a healthy vegetable broth. “There’s no meat at all,” assures Tran, who also recommends Saigon Cuisine’s Lemongrass Tofu Vermicelli ($7.50). The dish is comprised of dry vermicelli along with tofu marinated in fragrant lemongrass and turnip, lending it an appetizing yellow hue and mellow flavor. “It’s a delicious taste for vegetarians,”

Tran says. The tofu and noodles are accompanied by lettuce, bean sprouts and cucumber, along with a shoyu-based sauce.

So don’t follow the herd. Vegetarians may have to do some investigating (with a little help from Dining Out) and make themselves clear when ordering, but it’s worth it when you can just phogetaboutit and enjoy your meal.

Saigon Cuisine

1408 Liliha St., Honolulu
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday and Monday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.