City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Community Q + Saigon Cafe = One Great Dish

IMG_9934I’m normally the kind of diner who plays enough by the rules that I wait patiently to ask for a paper napkin rather than grabbing one off a neighboring table or alert a waiter when he has forgotten a dish on the bill or undercharged.

But for a couple of years now I’ve been contemplating a restaurant infraction and finally decided to go through with it.

As I live in and often work around Decatur during the day, I often go out for a quick solo lunch. I almost always end up at Saigon Cafe, kind of by default. It’s fast, cheap and serves probably the most credible Asian food in the area. Being a creature of comfort-food habit, I usually get a bowl of pho (beef noodle soup) when it’s cold outside and bun thit nuong (rice vermicelli with cold vegetables and grilled meat) when it’s hot.

And for years — years — I’ve thought it would be great to remove the caramelized-into-candy wiggles of pork from the bowl and replace it with the smoky, crusty barbecued pork from Community Q BBQ in the next mini-mall over. I’ve thought about how nice that pork would taste with a dousing of nuoc cham sauce, a dab of red chile sambal and a few threads of pickled carrot in a tangle of noodles, cucumber and lettuce.

So I finally did it. Bought a quarter pound of meat, brought it in with me to Saigon Cafe, ordered my bun thit nuong, and when the waitress wasn’t looking, made the transfer. Holy porker, I was right! This Viet-cue mashup was the lunch of my dreams. True, it ended up costing me something like $18, but I had a lot of meat (both kinds) left over.

So I guess my next move is to come clean. I’ll ask first if I can transfer meat. If not, I’ve got a helluva picnic. Also, I think some Farm Burger pickled veggies might taste good in the mix.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

6 comments Add your comment


March 11th, 2014
10:51 am

Saigon Cafe? Fancy.


March 11th, 2014
1:42 pm

Hah! I love that story, John. You’re a sick man and a dangerous food criminal. I love food, but it never occurred to me to sneak food into a restaurant. That said, it’s completely brilliant and looks delicious. Thanks also for the Saigon Cafe recommendation. I love Nam Phuong, but can’t stand driving up all the way to Buford Highway from Decatur for takeout. I’ll give Saigon Cafe a shot.


March 11th, 2014
1:49 pm

John, I sneak food into the movies.


March 12th, 2014
2:37 pm

Excellent idea… a perfect food fusion idea! I am always thinking of ways to combine Asian cooking with familiar flavors and simplified cooking. In fact at home, I use a non-stick wok most of the time to cook just about everything including my own version of Pho and yes I have tried all kinds of variations including, Asian seasoned ground turkey, tuna, salmon, left-over cooked meats of all shapes and sizes, different ramen and rice noodles… and other pastas. I can’t think of a better way to make a tasty, healthy, one pot meal. The Vietnamese have been doing it for a very long time… and for good reason! Love me some Siagon Cafe and Chateau Saigon out on Buford near Dresden Dr.!


March 12th, 2014
7:18 pm

Popeye’s red beans and rice with KFC grilled chicken…don’t hate.


March 14th, 2014
8:36 am

Classic. We’ve snuck Community’s mac and cheese into Bhojanic for the munchkin to eat.