While east Tosa boasts a small cache of great restaurants like Il Mito, Mekong Cafe and Juniper 61, head even slightly north (or northwest) to Cooper and Enderis Park neighborhoods and options thin out.
So, it was with excitement that folks noted the opening of Miss Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant, 9201 W. Center St.
In recent years, the corner location on 92nd and Center – just north of Alterra's Tosa location and just south of Mount Mary College and downstairs from the Cashel Dennehy School of Irish Dance – has been home to Smoothielicious smoothie shop and a breakfast cafe before that.
But Miss Saigon is the first place there in recent memory to light up the intersection in the evenings.
Miss Saigon is doing what appears to be great business at lunch and dinner. We stopped in this weekend for dinner and were pleased.
The space is all windows on two sides, so it feels bright and open. The straw yellow walls, sparse art and a flickering fireplace on the west wall make the restaurant feel welcoming.
So does the smiling, attentive service.
We started out with two Vietnamese egg rolls ($3.50) and two grilled pork rolls ($3.50). The former were thin, deep fried and meaty, without being excessively greasy. The latter were steamed and bulging and melded strips of grilled pork with noodles and vegetables.
For entrees, I had the seafood noodle soup (Pho do bien), which was a big steaming bowl of noodles and broth with shrimp and imitation crab meat. A plate of sprouts and sprigs of basil accompanied the bowl ($7.75).
Despite the fact that the menu promised squid and fish cake, which were not present – best as I could tell – this was hot, satisfying and tasty pho.
My dining companion enjoyed the pad Thai shrimp ($7.75), which had a good dash of spice, and we both had limeade ($2).
The restaurant was entirely full when we arrived around 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday and we had a short wait. A steady stream of diners and came and went and the place was at capacity for most of our stay. At the same time, numerous customers came in to pick up carry-out orders, too.
Miss Saigon is open Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 9-9, and Sunday, 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. It is closed Mondays.
We left full and satisfied and with a bill that didn't even reach $30 for entrees, appetizers and beverages. See you again soon Miss Saigon.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.