Saigon City in Old Saybrook: Vietnamese with An Artistic Attitude


Old Saybrook is a small, seaside town in Middlesex County. It’s also one of the oldest towns in Connecticut with roots that date back to 1624! A New York Times review of Saigon City, a quaint Vietnamese restaurant, inspired us to stop by the town for dinner and a round of mini golf.  We felt excited to try a new Vietnamese restaurant for the first time in almost a year.  We were equally delighted to find that Old Saybrook still had a mini golf course by the docks. With our two year anniversary around the corner,  we were eager to embark on a pre-celebration in this town.

Saigon City

Grade: A

Location:  1315 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook, CT

Website Menu

from the official website.

Atmosphere: 10/10-When you step into the Saigon City, you’ll notice the beautiful Vietnamese paintings that decorate the walls.  Chef Vu Nguyen, who co-owns Saigon City with his wife, Bernadette, painted some of these! This speaks to Saigon City’s authentic, creative atmosphere and to the talent of Nguyen.  The  paintings represent a wonderful, welcoming expression of the Vietnamese culture.  Saigon City’s dining room fireplace is an added bonus, especially for those frigid, Fall and Winter  nights.  We opted  to sit on the deck  and soak in the sun.  We noticed that Saigon City differs from other restaurants in that it keeps both its interior and exterior clean!

Service: 9/10-We waited a little longer than we expected for refills but, we found our waitress to be personable and efficient.  We also give props to the chef(s) who prepared our dishes in under 15 minutes.  Vietnamese  cuisine (if done well) boasts complexity in its taste and design. The quick preparation time highlights the experience of Saigon City’s chefs.

Price: 4/5-Lunch prices range from $7.95 to $10.95.  Dinner prices range from $11.95 to $17.95.  If you want a glass of wine, you’ll spend an average of $5-$6. These are some pretty sweet deals!  Our experience  caused us to re-evaluate our perspective on price. We visited an Italian restaurant the other week in which the price of entrees ranged from $17.95 and above!  We expected superior, gourmet cuisine for this amount.  We tasted tasty, overpriced cuisine.  At Saigon City, you will pay significantly less for dishes with filling portions and damn good taste!

Selection: 5/5-Click on the menu link above and scroll down. This extensive menu spans ten pages! From Vietnamese spring rolls to Red Curry pork, you have plenty to choose from! We suggest you review this extensive menu before you stop by.

Taste: 9/10-Lemon grass, peanuts, limes, vegetables, coconut milk, curry and chili-paste: these are some of the key ingredients to signature Vietnamese dishes.  Saigon City’s chefs honored this culinary tradition and the results proved downright delectable!  If you’re a fan of spice, you might want to tell your server beforehand. The dishes marked as “spicy” may not  taste as spicy as you might anticipate without this suggestion.  

Below you’ll find our picks for the top 5 most creative entrees:

1.   Saigon Spicy Chicken (Slices of tender chicken breast marinated with coconut milk, yellow curry, and chili pepper.  Stir-fried with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and clear noodles.  Sprinkled with ground peanuts)-$12.95

2.  Spicy Vegetarian Curry (Tofu marinated with coconut milk, curry, and chili pepper.  Stir-fried with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, and clear noodles.  Sprinkled with ground peanuts)-$12.95

3. Red Curry Pork (Sliced pork marinated with red curry and simmered in coconut milk with bamboo shoots, red chili, and bell peppers)-$12.95

4.  Saigon Beef Delight (Slices of flank steak stir-fried with pineapple, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumbers)-$14.95

5.  Squid Sate-(Squid sautéed with carrots, onions, bell peppers, celery, mushrooms, broccoli, bamboo shoots, and baby corn)-$14,95

In a nutshell: 37/40-Saigon City proved that it is possible for restaurants to serve authentic, delicious cuisine at affordable prices. Yes, this includes wine too! You can treat yourself this to an exquisite dinner or lunch  without burdening your wallet. We strongly recommend you visit and immerse yourself in the artistic and culinary gem that is Saigon City.

Saigon City on Urbanspoon

nimblefox logo

Did you know? We also tutor. Click here to check out NimbleFox, our tutoring website!

//

Hiking in Connecticut: Sleeping Giant in Hamden


If you’re looking to take advantage of Connecticut’s wonderful weather this summer, why not go for hike!  There are hundreds of hiking trails in our state and many of them lead to great views. Whether you’re an experienced climber or you’ve only gazed at mountains from afar, Connecticut has hikes for all levels and ages. I’ve hiked across the country since the age of twelve as a member of the Highpointers Club.  Christina, a city girl at heart, is fairly new to the hiking scene.   Regardless of our differences, we enjoy what Connecticut has to offer in terms of hiking.  On Sunday, we climbed Sleeping Giant in Hamden.  Here is how our afternoon panned out-

Sleeping Giant

Overall Grade: B

Address: Sleeping Giant State Park, 200 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT

Website 

Image

From the official website. We could not get a good enough picture of the tower.

Parking Fee: 8/10-The parking fee is $10.  If you’re planning on camping overnight, this is not a bad fee.  If you’re only planning on a day hike, however, it might seem kind of steep.

Atmosphere: 9/10-Sleeping Giant lies in Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden. The park is across the street from Quinnipiac University, a private institution with an enrollment of approximately 5900 students. A large fraction of those students hiked Sleeping Giant on Sunday.  Most of the other hikers included families with small children and teenagers.  The park offers hiking, picnicking, camping and fishing.  The mountain offers a lookout tower, a modest nature trail and a scenic view. You’ll find plenty to do if you decide to spend the day.

Trail: 8.5/10-The trail is only 1.5 miles long.  The park’s website calls it “scenic” but the mountain is cloaked by trees until you get to the top.  We enjoyed the historical trail markers we found along the way.  You’ll also notice a modest amount of wild life.

The view:  9/10-When you reach the top, you’ll find a nice view of Long Island Sound and the New Haven area from the stone observation tower! 

 In a nutshell:  34.5/40-If you’re looking for a nice quick hike with a great view, Sleeping Giant delivers.  We recommend you take advantage of the park’s fishing and camping opportunities to make the most of your parking fee.

Pop’s Burgers and a Movie at Southington Drive-In


After a very long break, we’re back! We last left off with a dinner + movie review at Gilson Cafe Cinema in Winsted. We liked the movie prices but weren’t too impressed with the food. We decided to try this experience again at the Southington Drive-In.  The Southington Drive-In served the town of Southington from 1955 until 2002.  The town decided to reopen the drive-in 2010 as a community run theater.  Nostalgia was reborn!   The drive-in drew  a large crowd of both newcomers and movie-going veterans who longed to relive their drive-in memories.  We visited Southington Drive-In last summer and loved our experience.  When we learned Pop’s Burgers (also of Southington) serviced the Drive-in, we decided to review the drive-in as a dinner-and-a-movie package.  This is how our night panned out-

Southington Drive-In

Overall Grade: A

Location:  935 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, Southington, CT

Website Facebook Pop’s Burgers Menu

Image

Atmosphere: 10/10-We felt as if we were reliving a piece of history. We were in awe seeing the many cars lined up toward the drive-in screen.  We recalled our experience at the Hartford Drive-In before the town abandoned it and the Toll Brothers built mundane looking houses on the land.  We knew the importance of this drive-in from the moment we parked. There are only three drive-ins left in the state of Connecticut.  By the 1980s, drive-ins rapidly disappeared from the state.  The town of Southington cared enough to keep their drive-in alive and the community cared enough to show up in large quantities.  The power of nostalgia is something we cannot word eloquently but we can say that we were moved, truly and deeply moved.

We are also moved by Southington Drive-In’s choice to play classic movies and old fashioned commercials.  The drive-in plays a wonderful selection of movies.  They range from kid friendly like Shrek to scary movies like Friday the 13th. We enjoyed watching Shrek on the big screen again. We caught all of the “adult jokes” this time around!  If you visit the website, you’ll find a wide selection of movies that play throughout the summer. When you visit the drive-in, you’ll notice commercials like the one below. See if you recognize this gem!

 

Service: 10/10-We appreciated the hard work and personalities of the staff at the Southington Drive-In and Pop’s Burgers.  They greeted you with smiles and provided quick, quality service.  Be sure to thank a staff member on your visit.  They put A LOT of effort into making your experience enjoyable so remember to reciprocate  Also, show some respect for the park.  We saw a couple rude customers waiting in line for food and two women (with children) who smoked in front of them and threw their cigarette butts on the grass. We shouldn’t have to tell you why this is rude, disrespectful and downright stupid.  You are NOT entitled to disrespecting the property or the employees.

Price of food: 4/5-The prices are decent compared to other theaters. You’ll pay less for any of the items on Pop’s menu than you would at a regular movie theater. You’ll also A LOT pay less for Popcorn and Candy.  For example, a large bag of popcorn costs $3.  You can’t even get a box of candy for that price at most movie theaters!  Many people sneak in food to movie theaters because its so expensive.  At Southington Drive-In, you can pay for dinner and a snack and not feel broke.

Taste:  8.5/10– We also liked the taste of our food better than we do at most movie theaters.  Pop’s burgers and fries are made fresh on a grill.  We found the bun to be the most appealing part of our burger because it tasted like freshly cooked bread from a bakery.  We especially loved our savory fries.  The staff serves them in large quantities (like Five Guys Burgers & Fries) but they taste better than Five Guys’ fries.

Price of movie: 5/5  $10 a car for Southington residents.  $13 a car for non-residents. Pack a car full of friends (or family) and take advantage of the awesome price!

In a nutshell:  37.5/40-Southington Drive-In earns an A because they deliver great nostalgia, great food and great customer service.  The summer is young.  Check out their website and visit them this summer!