8165 SE Ash St. (next to Hong Phat)
You have to take a second look to see the Little Saigon Noodles & Grill just off SE 82nd next to Hong Phat, since it is set back from the street with other newly-opened establishments. This section of the Avenue of Roses has come to life with a contribution of this Vietnamese restaurant, a beauty supply and a jewelry store.
The owner of Little Saigon, Trina Ong and her husband Benny Dang met shortly after her arrival from Vietnam more than ten years ago. They had both made the journey from Vietnam with their families to pursue a different life in America, although Benny and his parents had already been here for 24 years.
After World War II, many Chinese immigrated to Vietnam to start businesses, looking to this country as a place of opportunity. It turned out these immigrants were quite successful in helping rebuild the economy here. Benny’s parents are both Chinese and offspring of that generation.
Trina’s dad is Chinese and her mother Vietnamese. She is the fifth daughter of seven with a younger brother. In Vietnam, Trina enjoyed cooking for her family and the people who worked in the family business. She learned to prepare traditional food from the area around Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in the south of Vietnam. Because of the French influence in their culture, Trina was inspired to learn the art of making pastries too. After arriving in the United States this innate skill landed her a job working in the kitchen of Portland Community College. “I mostly learned to cook American food, which our kids love,” she said.
Five years ago, she decided to follow the lead of her sister who owns a restaurant in Beaverton and open her own. She spent several years working in family and friends’ restaurants up and down the west coast to learn all she could about different styles of Vietnamese cooking.
Little Saigon is meticulously organized. At first glance you may get confused that you are in a mini grocery/Asian fast food store – and that is an option. Settling into one of the booths or tables, the eye catches the details and realizes that, while it is minimal, it is also very warm. There are wall-sized photos of Vietnam and its people, a rich bright color theme, aesthetically displayed beverages, “Vietnamese fast food”, and the pastry case filled with macaroons.
The dinner menu offers Vietnamese favorites: the Com Thit Nu’ó’ng – shredded pork marinaded in honey and lemongrass, Chä Cio (Chay/Thit) – crispy egg roll, veggie or meat and Trina’s favorite old Vietnamese standard, Bun Rieu – seafood and meatloaf, ham and tofu with vermicelli noodles in a tomato soup base. These are just a few of the meal choices available.
There are tofu choices for vegetarians and a lot of sides. Kids meals include french fries and chicken strips. The selection of bottled beverages is extensive and bubble tea is served as well as several smoothies and the ever-delicious Vietnamese coffee, Café Sür Dá, iced or hot. Fried banana desert along with house-made macrons or sweet sticky bean rice are other dessert options.
Find their complete menu on their facebook tinyurl.com/zxf2fkfw