PICS: MARCO POLO
Moving on up. Owners of Upstairs Café in Maharajgunj (not to be confused with Jazz Upstairs) have opened a second location in Lazimpat, an aesthetic upgrade from the quick-paced, casual canteen. The two-week-old Saigon Pho boasts an upscale feel, while serving generous portions at the same midscale prices.
Spacious, inviting, hip. The renovated manor provides ample seating on two levels (and plans for rooftop dining are slated for this summer). Its carmine interior and sable furniture take after the duotone bowls so characteristic of East Asia; paper lanterns and cushions soften the modern setting.
But the difference between the two establishments isn't merely cosmetic. Exclusive to Saigon Pho, the Vietnamese-Nepali owners throw in new additions to their Vietnamese preparations, once again extending the city's gastronomical dictionary:
Thit kho trung ga. A welcomed entrée to the table, the Vietnamese stew like this pork rendition with boiled eggs is as traditional and common as pho. Morsels of pork with bone and fat-in swim in a consommé seasoned with fish sauce, coriander and red chilies.
Pho dac bief. The titled dish is nothing new but is a mainstay worth mentioning. The Special Pho consists of sliced beef and chicken and shrimp rendered in a simmering broth garnished with lime, green onion, coriander, basil and bean sprouts. Plum and chili sauce make the dish.
Saigon Pho serves authentic plates in a classy setting and should be lauded and frequented for its specialized cuisine. The proprietors however could be a bit more daring and introduce even more exotic specials like doi huyet (something like a French boudin), oxtail, tendon, or tripe pho. Is Kathmandu ready?
Face the Shangri-La Hotel in Lazimpat and turn 180°