I first came to Saigon Star several years ago for their famous curry crab. Fast forward three years and I was back for what I recalled was a glorious meal. The restaurant is located in Richmond Hill, so I was hoping the trek from downtown would still be worth it.
Saigon Star is located on Highway 7 and Chalmers (just east of Bayview) and unlike most Vietnamese restaurants I’ve been to, Saigon Star serves up “high-end” Vietnamese food. Well, maybe not high-end… but let’s just say it’s a big step up from the usual hole-in-the-wall pho joints.
The space is relatively clean and the atmosphere is rather busy and hectic. The food came out at lightning speed after we ordered and I suspect a lot of their food was pre-cooked as they wanted to turnover tables as quickly as possible. It’s a popular restaurant and by the time we had finished our early dinner, a large crowd had formed by the entrance, eagerly waiting for their table.
Oh and get this, while we were in the middle of our meal, they brought over some complimentary dessert (taro tapioca). Feeling a little rushed was definitely an understatement… It’s too bad because the dessert was actually quite nice except for the fact that it was cold by the time we got to it.
I started off with my usual drink, a Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Delicious!
Our Curry Crab (market price – ours was $48) came out suspiciously quickly as if they had these all prepared and waiting in the kitchen. The curry sauce, which was lukewarm, sadly wasn’t as good as I had remembered. Don’t get me wrong, it was still pretty good and I still ate a fair share of it but it was just “good” this time as opposed to “amazing”.
Size-wise, it’s not a very large crab so you don’t get a lot for what you pay for (although I’m not sure what the going market price for crab is these days). I’m also really lazy and getting all the little bits of meat out of a crab is just too much work! Who’s with me? Mike, on the other hand, doesn’t mind working for his food. He says he finds it rewarding.
If I can offer a word of advice to you curry crab-eaters, it’s to wear some bummy looking clothes to Saigon Star. This stuff is messy and stains like nobody’s business.
To go with our curry crab, we ordered two loaves of French Baguette which we used to soak up all the leftover curry sauce. I highly recommend doing the same.
In addition to the curry crab, we ordered the Grilled Honey Pork Neck Meat ($14.95). Pork neck is one of my favourite cuts of pork since it’s a fattier cut and has a nice bite to it. While the flavour of the pork neck here was delicious, the grilling of the meat was a little hit and miss – one of the pieces was nice and juicy while the other piece was a little dry and overcooked.
We also ordered the BBQ Eel which was listed at market price (I can’t recall how much we paid for it). My cousin Anita recommended it and I expected the eel to come in those small, thin pieces you get at Japanese restaurants so I was surprised when it arrived.
It was much meatier than the eel I’m used to and was very enjoyable. It came with a slaw underneath and a sweet and salty soy-based dipping sauce. This is a must-order for eel fans!
For some veg, we ordered the Shrimp Sauce Kang Kong ($10.95) which was cooked to perfection. The vegetable has a hollow stem which allows it to retain a nice crunch after cooking. The shrimp sauce gave it a nice saltiness and the generous amount of garlic in the dish packed the veggies full of flavour.
The last dish we ordered was the Chicken Pot Rice. I apologize, I didn’t catch the price of this one either…clearly, I wasn’t being very diligent with my food blogging duties this evening. I was probably too excited to dig into the curry crab.
Anyway, the chicken pot rice dish consisted of a good amount of chicken topping the tasty, oily rice underneath. There’s just something about this simple dish that’s really comforting and satisfying.
So, we came for the curry crab and while it didn’t live up to my memories, I still had a good meal overall at Saigon Star. Would I recommend driving a long ways for it? Probably not. But if you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit!
At a glance:
• Loved their famous curry crab when I first came here 3 years ago; it was still good but not as amazing as I had remembered
• Don’t wear nice/easily-stained clothing if you’re planning on getting the crab
• Highlights: BBQ eel and shrimp sauce kang kong
• Prices are high compared to most other Vietnamese restaurants (the curry crab is market price – ours cost $48)
• Located in Richmond Hill (Highway 7 and Chalmers, just east of Bayview)
• Food comes out at lightning speed; Felt very rushed – dessert was served halfway through our meal (cold by the time we got around to eating it)
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3 stars
• Service: 1 star
• Atmosphere: 1 star