Eating Pho in Shanghai at Saigon Mama

May 29, 2017

One of my secret guilty pleasure in Shanghai is eating at commercial outlets, such as ramen at Ippudo, burgers at Carls Jr, and in todays Eating Now feature, Vietnamese Pho at Saigon Mama.

Originally opened at the Shanghai Center, located right at the entrance of the car park, certainly an inconspicuous location, yet at meal times, the eatery is constantly packed.

Saigon Mama Shanghai Center outlet.

The photos from this article were taken from the Shanghai Center outlet, but my current go-to is the new(er) outlet at the Sun Moon Light mall, which is just 5 minutes from my apartment in Shanghai.

The decor is very casual and laid-back, almost reminding me of Sproutworks or an asian bastardised version of Wagas.

Laidback casual atmosphere

So what’s good to eat there?

I have to admit, not everything is good. Their rice rolls are forgettable, albeit portions are generous.

Rice spring rolls are generous in portion, but unfortunately only mediocre in taste.

I do like their beef pho and recently, their seafood pho. (Might update this article with a photo of the seafood pho at a later time.)

It’s not just soup and noodles.

The pho at Saigon Mama comes in a ginormous bowl, 70% of which is the soup, which is not a bad thing with their delicious, clean tasting soup.

The pho they use are closer to the chinese flat vermicelli aka 河粉, although I believe this type of wider noodle is had in certain regions of Vietnam, against the thinner variety.

Generous portions seem to be the pattern here.

The classic beef pho comes with a combination of beef slices, brisket and beef balls, all of which are tasty, although I do wish that the beef slices could be rarer, and simply lightly cooked in the soup. That said, it might be safer to eat them fully cooked in a fast paced restaurant like this.

With every beef pho order, a plate of condiments are provided as per any respectable pho place, containing stalks of basil, bean sprouts and chopped birds eye chilli. Take note that the variety of birds eye chilli used at Saigon Mama is extremely spicy. Simply placing one of these buggers into the bowl managed to spice up the entire bowl of soup.

Very nicely cooked flat vermicelli.

I know, some people detest it, some people love the pho here. Is it the best bowl of pho I’ve ever eaten? No it’s not. I can’t exactly be a good judge of that, because I have never been to Vietnam. The best bowl of Pho I’ve ever eaten was in Hong Kong at this restaurant called Lime at the Tsing Yi Mall.

At 58 RMB for a bowl of noodles in Shanghai, it isn’t cheap. It is, however, a dependable, convenient and healthy bowl of Pho that warms the stomach during cold days.

If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a try and let me know what you think!

PS: Their vietnamese drip coffee (iced) is absolutely delicious.

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