Saigon on Fifth

A couple of years ago, Dennis and I ate at Saigon on Fifth with some friends and enjoyed not one, but THREE delicious sea bass dishes, all differently prepared! We had been meaning to revisit and after a tasty sample during Taste of Hillcrest 2014 and some birthday celebrations, we finally made it back!

Saigon on Fifth - 360 beef

The first birthday was for Dennis (a few months ago). The first entree was the 360 Beef, moist morsels of cubed beef. It reminded me of the beef dish we had at Pho Ban Mai, but less oily and at a slightly higher price. They were accented with crispy fried onions and plated on lettuce with rice on the side. The meat was all gone before long.

Saigon on Fifth - creamy basil fish (sea bass)

The second entree was the Creamy Basil Fish, which is the full size dish of the sampler from Taste of Hillcrest. We chose the sea bass version over the salmon when given the choice by our waiter. The fish was fall apart tender and satisfying with the flavorful curry sauce. The rice was put to good use to soak up every last bite of the yummy sauce!

Saigon on Fifth - birthday dessert

After finishing our entrees, they brought out a complimentary birthday dessert. We didn't know what it was called but inside was banana cheesecake-like filling surrounded by a thicker pastry dough, only slightly flakey. We also came with a coupon from ibirthdayclub but unfortunately it wasn't accepted. I believe it's the fault of ibirthdayclub because the restaurant has confirmed multiple times that they no longer participate yet the birthday offer still shows up from ibirthdayclub emails.

More recently, we were back for another birthday for Dennis's dad. The whole family came out so we were able to sample even more dishes this time!

Saigon on Fifth - imperial rolls

For starters, we had an order of the Imperial Rolls, which is basically a fancy name for eggrolls. It didn't taste special though and is quite the small portion. Fish sauce is served on the side for dipping.

Saigon on Fifth - fresh spring rolls

We also had the Fresh Spring Rolls, a classic vietnamese type of item. The outsides are wrapped with a thin rice paper and inside is vegetables and rice noodles and boiled beef.

Saigon on Fifth - tasty appetizer

This was one of the tastiest appetizers. I don't know what it's called but plenty of shrimp was mixed into the filling and the outside was fried like an eggroll! Thin rice paper and water to dip it in were provided to make your own spring rolls.

Saigon on Fifth - beef wrapped in grape leaves

The Beef Wrapped in Grape Leaves were on the other side of the table and must have been so good that they were basically GONE before we got to try them! A single order of the appetizers will not suffice for 8 diners!

Saigon on Fifth - clay pot fish (salmon)

The Clay Pot Fish was served with salmon. I'm a fan of clay pot because I love the savory glazed nature of the sauce. This one did not disappoint!

Saigon on Fifth - coconut shrimp

The Coconut Shrimp arrived IN a coconut shell! Two hands were needed to keep the lid open while fishing the shrimp out of the coconut inspired sauce inside! I liked the taste but Dennis didn't really care for the milkier sweet sauce part.

Saigon on Fifth - pineapple fried rice

I love when Pineapple Fried Rice is served like this. Enjoy the tasty food AND save a dish at the same time!

Saigon on Fifth - fish of hue (sea bass)

This was the Fish of Hue with Sea Bass! Although it looks spicy red, it was mild enough for me to eat and packed a punch of chili flavor. We also reordered the Creamy Basil Fish and 360 Beef which the family loved as well. Pops also got the same birthday dessert Dennis did on our last visit.

Overall, the food here is excellent but it will cost a little more than the typical Vietnamese restaurant. Between the front area and the back is a bar so you can have a few drinks with your buds, since you're in the heart of Hillcrest! As far as parking goes, you can look for street parking or, even easier, use the Union Bank underground parking lot around the corner and have the restaurant validate for 2 hours free. Happy eats!

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Saigon on Fifth
3900 5th Ave
San Diego CA 92103
(619) 220-8828

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J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats's picture
Submitted by J.S. @ Sun Dieg... (not verified) on Tue, 08/05/2014 - 9:09am

Ahh almost went here two days ago!!! We were deciding whether to try this or do Pho Fifth Avenue and we went with Pho Fifth because we've been there before. The things I most wanted to order were the beef in grape leaves and the cut up spring roll thing and you got them. Will now use your blog post to badger bf into going here (he doesn't love trying new restaurants because he hates it when they turn out to be not so great).

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:06pm

The only place whose spring rolls amaze me is Brodards (in orange county) though Pho Ban Mai in mira mesa has a similar, almost as good version. Otherwise, we make pretty good spring rolls at home but essentially, it depends on the meat you use. I like trying sea bass at places since it's something I never cook at home! So would you recommend Pho Fifth Avenue yourself? Must I wait for the review? :)

jinxi's picture
Submitted by jinxi (not verified) on Tue, 08/05/2014 - 10:21am

Ooh I've been wanting to try this place. The creamy basil fish sounds amazing! :D

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 08/05/2014 - 1:08pm

It's a nice date place and there are plenty of tasty options, depending on your preferences! They have reasonable lunch prices so try that if you're close enough to do it!

Mary's picture
Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Wed, 08/06/2014 - 8:41am

I love that the coconut shrimp was served inside of a coconut! I have never seen that before so I think it's totally brilliant. I also love when places served pineapple fried rice in a pineapple. I might just be easily amused though.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Wed, 08/06/2014 - 12:04pm

yea this is the first time seeing a coconut that wasn't paired with a tropical drink! the pineapple bowl must be too much work for most places since you have to cut the fruit out! i appreciate nice food presentation since it whets the appetite!

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