2798 Gold Coast Highway
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
+61 7 5538 7588
GOOD Vietnamese food is extremely hard to find on the Gold Coast so it’s a luxury that I tend to go without – I either wait until I’m back in Melbourne for my bun bo hue fix or I attempt to make my own pho broth. So when a Tinder match suggested we go to this ‘really, really authentic Vietnamese restaurant on the Highway,’ my ears pricked up.
‘Authentic Vietnamese restaurant?’ I sceptically asked.
‘Yeah, the venue is really cool – it’s like you’re sitting in someone’s house and the food is cooked by their grandmother or something.’
‘Okay, this I gotta see!’ I was as excited as I was today when I heard that The Book of Mormon musical was finally hitting our glorious shores. YESSSSS.
But then Mr Tinder ruined everything with this question: ‘So, is pho Vietnamese or Thai?’
In hindsight, that should have been a warning sign to abort this meet-up immediately. If an Asian guy can’t tell me what country pho comes from, then should I really be trusting his judgement on what constitutes ‘really, really authentic Vietnamese’ food?
It didn’t matter anyway; we were finally at New Saigon. Housed in a beautiful timber house in the middle of Goldie Highway, the restaurant’s bright neons signs glittered as brightly as the sequins on a metre maid’s bikini top. Inside, a bustling atmosphere greeted us as we took our seat. It wasn’t a full house that night but it was busy enough – so much so that we did wait more than 30 minutes for our food to arrive, unusual for a Vietnamese restaurant.
We started off with some summer rolls. To be honest, they weren’t the best I’ve had. Not only were they skint on the filling, the rolls themselves were tasteless. I struggled to eat just one.
My companion ordered a decidedly non-Vietnamese dish, a strange choice for someone who claimed that New Saigon served ‘really, really authentic Vietnamese’ food. I didn’t try any of it but it was definitely not something I’d order – not for sixteen-bloody-fifty anyway. Hell, it wasn’t even something I’d try to cook at home either. That said, my buddy did enjoy it so maybe I’m the one who’s wrong here.
Of course, I ordered beef pho. At $15, it was not cheap (yet, $15 bowls of pho seems to be standard in Goldie) – maybe it broke the $12 mark because of all the spring onions that went into broth.
Don’t even think for a second that this pho may be authentic because it wasn’t. It was bastardised, one-dimensional and worse of all, SWEET. I couldn’t taste any traces of beef boney goodness in the broth, no spices, no nothing. It was pretty close to slurping a bowl of hot sugared water with a pinch of saltiness but nowhere near enough. I was very disappointed.
I never saw Mr Tinder again and nor have I been back to New Saigon. And if people say this is Gold Coast’s most authentic Vietnamese restaurant then, damn, the glitter strip has a long way to go.