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February 13, 2009

Vietnamese restaurant news

Consumer blogger Liz Kay tells me Saigon Remembered across from the Senator Theatre in Govans has reopened after being closed for a couple of weeks. Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches  on a baguette) are now available at lunchtime, and the restaurant has started offering free delivery from Roland Park to Ruxton.

I'm afraid Lissa's mini-review of the new Mekong Delta at Cathedral and Saratoga might have gone unnoticed under a previous entry, so I'm going to reprint it here. I was surprised by the name. When I told Movie Critic Mike Sragow about it, he pointed out that the only thing weirder would have been if it were called the Gulf of Tonkin.

Here's her review (Thanks, Lissa): ...


...I got to Mekong Delta. They have $4.75 lunch specials. The summer rolls were not bad, nor was the peanut sauce. My Vietnamese pancake was quite good. It was an eggy crepe stuffed with veggies. The lemongrass chicken was perhaps a tad boring, and the rice was of mediocre quality.

We got a cold soup of lichi, lotus root and some kind of nut (ginko?) for dessert. I liked it, but it wasn't sweet enough for others. Unusual, not for everyone, to be sure.

The lunch menu is quite limited. They have a much longer menu for dinners and the weekend. There is pho, and I'll be back to try it soon. The dinner prices looked quite inexpensive - pho was $8-9.

I enjoyed it. The room is bright with interesting artwork of Vietnam. The owner was willing to explain dishes and make recommendations. Plus the only other place in the area you can get a good lunch for under $5 is Bouillabaisse Cafe.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 6:11 PM | | Comments (33)


Mmmm, banh mi. Must try theirs soon.

Oh, man, bahn mi. Those rock. Govans...I was there once, I think...

It is Mekong Delta because that is where the co-owner and cook is from.

Oh come on, there are WAY worse names than Mekong Delta. How about Apocalypse Chow?

Apocalypse Chow would just have to be in Hampden.

I agree... mekong delta is not a bad name. The Mekong River is the lifesource of that area, and the delta is where it hits Vietnam. If anything, we're the ones that screwed with their names.

I'm confused - what is "wrong" with Mekong Delta as a name?

I wouldn't say wrong, but it does bring back memories of the war in a way that even Saigon Remembered doesn't, and the fact that it's not a consideration anymore in naming your restaurant signals, I don't know, the end of an era? EL

It's probably an age thing...I'm with EL on the name.

The US lost that war (which it shouldn't have been in in the first place). Get over it.

It still makes me sad. Plus, the first thing I said when I heard we had invaded Iraq was "One word: Vietnam." Maybe too many people have gotten over it. EL

the first thing I said when I heard we had invaded Iraq was "One word: Vietnam."

Yes, the lessons of Vietnam do indeed seem to have been forgotten.

The US lost that war (which it shouldn't have been in in the first place). Get over it.

From Wikipedia:
The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities, including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers.

The U.S. Veterans Administration has listed prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, peripheral neuropathy, and spina bifida in children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Although there has been much discussion over whether the use of these defoliants constituted a violation of the laws of war, the defoliants were not considered weapons, since exposure to them did not lead to immediate death or incapacitation.

The U.S. Census Bureau (2004) reports there are 8.2 million "Vietnam Era Veterans". Of these 2.59 million are reported to have served "in country".

Yeah, we should totally just get over it. Your sensitivity is amazing. I guess you must know a bunch of veterans too, huh? Like my father, who served at Da Nang?

While we're at it, 10 million died in the Holocaust, but we should get over it. We should also get over the deaths on Sept. 11, 2001. And we should get over the slaughter of Native Americans and slavery. And I hope you can just get over any personal tragedies you may ever have in your life with the same callous attitude.

I'm going to hold back on what I would really like to say to you out of respect to EL, the Sun, and the readers and the Sandbox. But really. Kinda makes you sound like a jerk, for lack of a less obscene word (of which there are many I would prefer to use).

But yeah, I have no problem with the name Mekong Delta.

...and if your point was just that we shouldn't be concerned about the name of the restaurant, you should have just said that. It'd make you sound less like an insensitive a**.

This is somehow spiraling out of control, and I'm to blame for not being clearer. I have no problem with the name in the sense that it outrages me, and I certainly didn't mean to start a political argument. I just thought it was interesting that it clearly no longer has strong associations. EL

EL, I don't think it's an accident that the people who brought us the Iraq war all managed to avoid serving in Viet Nam (with the exception of Colin Powell, who was much less gung-ho than others in the Bush II administration).

Will we ever see a cafe named Gitmo? I don't think so.

OK...maybe it's not an age thing.

I don't have a problem with the name, and I'm just old enough to remember the Vietnam War (plus I've spent enough time on PTSD wards at VA hospitals to have been educated on what my parents didn't let me find out). That area of Vietnam has a history going back thousands and thousands of years. Why focus on 25 years, give or take a few, when the US was there? It was a horrible war, we should never have been there, but isn't it horribly US-centric to focus only on the war?

Sean, I think you went overboard there. It was Hal, not EL, that said we should get over it, and I don't think he meant it the way you think he did.

Dahlink, a Cafe Gitmo, no, because Gitmo is the military term. I'd have no problem with a Cafe Guantanamo Bay, though.

It really sounds like we all need a nice bowl of pho.

Have you seen the new restaurant nin Beirut? It's called Buns 'N Guns. Really. No, really.

So which administration got us in the Vietnam war again?

While the U.S. may have lost Vietnam that conflict was part of the overall Cold War, which we won. It is a case of lost the battle but won the war.

As to Dahlink's comment about those who brought us the Iraq War avoided service in Vietnam, I will agree; however, I don't think that observation is limited to the Bush Administration. Increasingly, our society as a whole has not served in the military. A few decades ago nearly every family, organization, church, etc...had a connection to the military. That is no longer the case. Few of us have served in the military, and in fact many of us don't have a close relation - friend or family - in the service.

Of course, to some extent this development has returned our society to where we were before World War II. The difference, however, is that before World War II the U.S. wasn't a global power that was intent on projecting power and engaging in wars around the world. It is one thing for the military to not permeate all levels of society in periods of isolationism; it is another to have the military isolated from society in times of interventionism.

I was responding to Hal, not EL - sorry if that was unclear. Re-reading what I wrote, yeah, that was a bit over the top. Not sure why I reacted so strongly. But today is, after all, a day of passion. And what's a little hyperbole among friends, yes? Yes...?

I'm sure Hal didn't mean it the way I took it, so my response was unnecessary.

And, um, yeah, we shouldn't have been there.

Pho sounds good.

I'm pretty sure it's an age thing and I'm with EL & Bucky on it. When Lissa first wrote Mekong Delta, having come from a blue-collar neighborhood where a trip to VN was in every guy in town's future, I knew I was never going there.

before World War II the U.S. wasn't a global power that was intent on projecting power and engaging in wars around the world.

Come on...

How about this American "hymn" from the 19th Century:

From the halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We will fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

Sean, I apologize for my not-terribly-sensitive wording. I didn't mean it like it apparently came out.

I knew lots of Vietnam vets, and could easily have been one myself but for the luck of the draft lottery. Many of the ones that made it back were scarred for life.

I am a Navy veteran and was part of the task force that patrolled the Iranian coast during the hostage crisis. My fiancee's son is about to enter the Navy, as an airplane mechanic.
While I didn't serve during combat (per se, there was a bit of skirmish there anyway), I did serve and proud of it. I don't mention my service unless it is brought into the conversation.
Anyway, my time in the service was well spent and I'm glad I did it, hardships and all. Which is why I work (damage control stuff mostly) for a defense contractor today. I want to give back to the military, and keep those that are serving as safe as possible.

It's interesting that I walked by the new restaurant the other day but decided not to eat lunch there but save it for a cooler day. I'm glad that there has been a lot of posts regarding the "American war", yes that is what they call it in Vietnam. My son was the first American to die in Hanoi after we left Vietnam. He was a peace activist and was involved in the establishment of a wonderful Friendship Village for victim's of Agent Orange outside of Hanoi. You can find the web site: Vietmam Friendship Village. I eat Pho about once a week for lunch.


I'm sure the Vietnam War evokes memories for most of us. Just as WWII does for my dads generation. But, with nothing but respect for those who served in Vietnam so bravely, no matter what their politics were; I maintain that the war was not really "us" against the Vietnamese. I think it was "us" against the Chinese, who oddly enough are now lending us money for our bailout funds. Odd how history turns around on itself, isn't it?

Hal, sorry for flying off the handle there.

Actually, I think I'm going to make all my posts over-the-top hyperbole from now on - it'd certainly make things interesting, no? For example:

Any poster: I really like veal

Sean: Oh, I bet you like murdering babies and sucking out their blood in front of their mothers too, right? You're literally worse than Hitler. You're like some guy named Pol Adolf Stalin. You probably thought Schindler's List was a comedy. You make Manson look like Mother Teresa.


On a different note, my wife and I had a great dinner at Annabel Lee tavern tonight. I decided to go there after the list of romantic places EL posted on here. Wife had the filet mignon, which was heavenly.

OMG, do not equate the limited actions of a commercial republic to stop pirates with the grandiose endeavors of an empire to occupy foreign countries.

Oh, and I am aware that my argument works better for Tripoli than Montezuma; however, it is late and I do not wish to discuss it. No doubt because it will lead me to Manifest Destiny, which will lead Lissa to religion, and then you'll take it to Social Darwinism. So, maybe we should all just follow Sean's lead and start talking about the Annabel Lee Tavern.

On a totally different tack, we went to see Slumdog Millionaire last night. Four thumbs up (we're voting with two hands each).

Damn...y'all made up. I bet it would be a 100-comment post. I'll lose. The momentum is gone.

RoCK, it took a lot more than a blog to lead me to religion.

I always thought the juxtaposition of the Saigon Remembered with the Armed Forces Recruiting Station a few doors down was pretty ironic... Enough to make enlistees think twice!

RoCK, you forgot "Fifty-four Forty or Fight!" Can't leave out our neighbours to the North.

RoCK, maybe we should simplify things.

Was the Soviet Union a threat to us because it wanted to take over the world and destroy us? Of course. Why? For same reason that Myron Guggenblatt wants to take over the accounting department.

Why does a dog lick himself? Because he can.

Why does the US want to exert it's power? Because it can. Corollary: Why didn't it exert more power a hundred years ago? Because it couldn't.

If the size proportions of humans and canaries were reversed, they would bite our heads off for a snack.

This is all you need to know to understand world politics and history.

The history of the world is the history of human nature – things are different because nothing ever changes.
– Ummberto Swarm

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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