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Refreshing Vietnamese at Saigon Le Vendeur

09.25.2015 by: Vanessa Miller
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It’s a hot, still, Austin summer day, and you know the only thing that will satisfy your lunch craving is the refreshing French-Asian fusion cooking of Vietnam: plenty of tangy fresh herbs, crisp veggies and hot chilis, cold rice noodles, iced coffee. Now, East Austin, not usually known for its Asian cuisine, has one solid choice for your Vietnamese cravings — Saigon Le Vendeur.

Saigon Le Vendeur

Saigon Le Vendeur and covered eating area

This chic, red, shipping-container-turned-Vietnamese-kitchen falls somewhere between your local gas station taco trailer and a regular sit-down restaurant.  There’s plenty of covered eating area, and there is an actual bathroom!  It’s not fine dining, but its East Austin outdoorsy feel is completely charming.  

Saigon Le Venduer meal

Grilled pork bun, banh mi, jasmine tea, and Vietnamese coffee

The debate over whether it’s a trailer or a restaurant fades from your mind when your food arrives. Ample (giant! shareable!) portions, fresh veggies, and tasty barbecued meat take over. The menu is simple, you can choose from the traditional banh mi sandwich, or the vermicelli (bun) bowl.  There are often specials listed on the chalkboard to the right.  (I’ve heard of them selling Ramen in the winter months.)  Customize your meal with your choice of meat, tofu, or veggies, or adding a fried egg to anything for some extra goodness.  You can round out your meal with traditional sides such as spring rolls, egg rolls, Vietnamese coffee, or tea.

My cold noodle bun bowl was overflowing with plenty of crisp veggies, barbecued pork, and crunchy fried garlic.  The coffee (ridiculously strong pressed coffee with sweetened condensed milk) was no joke.  It’s delicious but if you are looking for something lighter, the jasmine tea with fresh cut fruit in it was so refreshing.  It was my pick for the hot summer day.  

Bun (uncovered) and refreshing jasmine tea with fresh fruit

The banh mi my lunch date ordered was just right.  The bread was still warm and soft inside, with a light crunch on the outside.  Filled with traditional Vietnamese pickled carrots, meat, cucumber, and just the right amount of jalapeños (you will actually be able to taste the goodness without your face melting off), it was an excellent combination of flavor and texture.  We had more than enough food for two (plus my next meal!), but we wanted to try the spring rolls.  They were also huge, and we got ours filled with crispy tofu.  Delicious! 

This is a great spot to enjoy a refreshing and flavorful lunch outdoors without feeling weighted down afterwards. Next time that Vietnamese craving strikes, you'll know where to go. Saigon Le Vendeur, we will be back. 

{Saigon Le Vendeur}


TAGS : East Austin , Saigon Le Vendeur