Posted by paulrivas on:
When we lived downtown, one property up from the log cabin, Clare and I ate Saigon In and Out on State and Victoria once a week. Now that we're in Goleta, we invent errands that can only be run downtown on an empty stomach, and eat Saigon once a week. Feeling that we'd been neglecting Goleta, we thought we'd give the Saigon by KMart a fair try.
Clare got a bowl of pho similar to our other usual and said it was good. I got a bowl of grilled beef and (three) grilled shrimp over noodles and a few salady vegetables and was dumbfounded at how delicious it all was, especially the beef, which was apparently seasoned with something magical. I drank two Tsingtao, the first of which came in a frosted mug, and learned that "Tsingtao" as from the lips of a Chinese person sounds nothing like any sounds I've ever made when speaking. It's clearly "Tsingtao", but it sounds much cooler, like in a kung fu movie.
Saigon by KMart had the basketball game going on TV, which is nice if you feel like having the basketball game on in your restaurant, as I sometimes do. It makes the space feel like Javan's cleaned up and given a thick dose of frames within frames. I love Javan's, particularly their foreign brand of customer service: absolute dedication to the product being offered on the one hand and absolute dominance of the customers on the other. The Mercury Lounge in Goleta operates on this principle and is different from all other bars in town in this way, although the owner is an Irish-American from Kansas City. People go to these places for the abuse.
By comparison, Saigon by Kmart is putting out a good product and at once treating their customers well. The wait staff are all dears. The skater kid waiter said, "Take your time, sir," and I couldn't help but laugh out of the embarassment of being called Sir with the Laker game blasting. I felt like a sheikh. When Clare didn't finish her soup, she had to swear on the Chinese server girl's dead great-grandmother's grave that it was because she wasn't hungry. The girl brought it back in a to-go container and said, "Eat as soon as quickly."
The two Saigon In and Outs are owned by one Vietnamese guy. I don't know who owns this Saigon. This one doesn't have curries, which really puts the other two over the top, as far as Clare and I are concerned, but these guys do the other stuff well. And on Saigon/Bond night, Saigon took it.