Back so soon? Yes! TAP Thai is totally kawaii and the food’s yummy. I talked it up to my parents shortly after my first visit, and we came here for lunch. On my birthday, no less.
Today the beverage selection was Singha beer, iced water with lemon and mint, and a Thai iced tea with lime. Whoa! I love the thai tea with lime! Really yummy and refreshing, I like it more than cream-based thai iced tea now. Thai tea with lime, Fo-Eva.
For appetizers, we got the corn cakes, which I’d had before, and tried the TAP rolls for the first time. These are fried eggrolls, but with with a twist on the fillings. These was the usual cabbage and seasonings, but also seaweed, which was new to me and I quite liked it. Both apps came with sweet Thai chile dipping sauce.
My father got the drunken noodles with tofu as the protein option, which he appeared to enjoy very much. This family is very much a fan of flat noodles, especially ones lightly pan fried.
My mother got the panang curry with chicken as the protein, which I’d gotten on my earlier visit for my lunch special. This a la carte portion is bigger than the lunch version, costs about a dollar more, but does not come with the soup or salad. It’s an ample portion, probably best shared. Much of this went home as leftovers since my mother picks at her food these days.
I went with something new, and ordered the Larb Gai, for about $9. It’s a bowl full of minced chicken, cooked with lots of fresh green chiles, onions, basil and spices. It’s really fresh tasting, with lots of zip from the chiles. This comes lettuce leaves to scoop up the chicken, so if you’re wanting a low carb option, this is it. Personally, I could have used more lettuce. Some of the larb went home as leftover too.
We also had an order of roti, and this was the only disappointing part of the meal. These could have been pan fried longer, as they turned out quite pale, limp, and greasy. We all agreed these needed to be a little more golden browned.
Overall, a very enjoyable meal. The restaurant wasn’t busy at all. Aside from a couple people coming in to pick up takeaway orders, we had the run of the place and my mother chatted up the nice ladies working there.
Saigon Noodle House can’t seem to cut a break in the online reviews. I’ve never had a problem with it, although I’m consistent in what I get – usually the dry vermicelli noodles with grilled pork and eggrolls.
And it’s a shorter drive to reach than going into Old Town for Vietnamese food there. Tom and I were in the area already for errands, so we came here for lunch.
Tom’s vegetarian requirements undoubtedly give him a different perspective on how good the food is, or the service. On this day, his spring rolls did not arrive until after he asked for them after receiving his main lunch, and the waiter asked about what he ordered to confirm it, like they’d forgotten. When they came, they had pork in them and he’s certain that’s never been in his spring rolls before. Not so cool for a vegetarian. He didn’t eat them after that discovery bite.
His main lunch was a vegetarian fried rice dish, which came with a bowl of soup. The soup was a simple broth, which he didn’t eat. The fried rice, he did eat.
Overall, I’d say the food is distinctly average. And when did “average” become bad? No, it’s average, like, on par. And they sure were busy – there was a queue within 10-15 minutes of us arriving.
Saigon Noodle House
This was the third or fourth of the Saigon In and Out empire that started on Milpas. I’m all for more exotic cuisines in Santa Barbara, because they struggle hard and they are a breath of fresh air to the old standards of Italian, sushi (note: not Japanese, just sushi), Mexican places that we have so many of.
This Saigon was down in the bar zone, so I can guess it was meant to attract drunk hungry people. I like that more late night eats are available, too. But perhaps others preferred cheaper faster food items, because soon this business changed its game to Lam’s Vietnamese Sandwiches.
Huuuuuh? I love bahn mi!! I totally wanted to go! But then…sammies are, like $8. Ouch. TRUE: this is comparable to most sandwiches in Santa Barbara, and TRUE: everything here is more expensive than in LA or the bay area. BUT: when it’s 3-4 times the price, it just hurts. I never found the time to go.
And then, they changed their name again! It’d become Miss Saigon. I don’t know why. Maybe people are more attracted to feminine names and Lam seemed really boring? Some mysteries will never be solved.
Anyway, we were downtown for the grand opening party of a cool record store, that was well attended by every hipster in town. Eventually, we got hungry. We had been chatting with Jeff about meeting up for dinner and I suggested Miss Saigon. Done.
Everything seemed so normal when we arrived. The place was busy, but not full, we got seats immediately, and near the window. Jeff arrived. We hemmed and hawed over the menu and eventually settled on some items. Then things got weird.
For one, it got really busy. People just kept coming in. People were standing around the door. People were standing around inside. People were queuing up to get in. Everyone was staring at the television and no food was to be seen. More people were coming in.
Over 90 minutes later, we have some eggrolls with lettuce wraps and dipping sauce, and eventually our other items arrived, but we were faint with hungry, Jeff was hangry and had gone to the front cashier twice to ask for an update on food.
Finally, we tried the pork bahn mi. It was fine! But yeah, $8, ouch.
The reason the place was so busy was because the Pacquiao fight was on. It was crammed full, standing room only, people spilling out onto the street. History was being made and everyone knew who to cheer for. The staff had no idea it would be this busy, and had called in their friends and family to help deal with all the customers.
But really, how were we supposed to know that this restaurant would be the only one televising it on State Street? Once we got outside, all the other restaurants were dead silent!
Long story short, decent food, but bad bad timing.
Update: Dec 2010. This restaurant is now listed as CLOSED. I’m bummed. Santa Barbara really does need more diversity of ethnic cuisines.
Miss Saigon – closed
I applaud the folks working there for putting up with some guy eating there who would not shut up about the care and maintenance of their fish tank. Apparently he’s a professional fish tank caregiver, or something. He went on and on and on.
I didn’t get a photo of the art, but I did locate a write-up about it and it has photos.
I have to admit, I could not locate this restaurant’s entry on Yelp, because I was searching for Pho 999 rather than New Pho 999. It was the above blog entry about Pho 999′s restroom art that identified the place for me.
Anyway, it was on the trek home from a recent roadtrip, and we’d pulled off into this area by recommendation that this block had a plethora of nifty hole-in-the-wall options. We were not disappointed.
There were no frills to the atmosphere, and our service was prompt and friendly.
Absolutely nothing to complain about the food, only a nice note that the prices here are much better than my town’s.
The eggrolls were hot, with heaps of crunchy greens to eat them with. I could have just chowed the eggrolls and been plenty happy. But we also ordered two portions of bún. One was bún with grilled pork and eggrolls, the other was bún with pork meatballs and shrimps.
While we thought the grilled pork dish was better than the meatballs, the gorging I did earlier on the eggroll appetizer meant I brought the majority of my meatball noodle dish home, which made for a generous dinner of leftovers for 2 the next day.
The bill, after also ordering a Vietnamese coffee, and adding tax and tip, was about $20.
Pho 999 (North Hollywood area)
In the evening, our convention food was served at Ealings Park, in uptown Santa Barbara. The appetizers were pretty good! For convention food.
Me, I enjoyed the tacos and sliders the most.
We chatted and networked, as you do at conventions, until the sun went down, and then did our best to stumble down the hill in our business clothing and heels, back to our cars for the next round of convention outings.