Saigon Star is a restaurant most famous for its seafood dishes especially its saucy plates of curry crab. They also do Vietnamese favourites like pork chops and housemade roti.
Nestled in a strip of plazas on Highway 7 flush with Asian eats, the restaurant has maintained its title as one of Richmond Hill’s most popular fine dining spots for almost three decades.
The business is operated by Bill Ha, a serial entrepreneur from Vietnam who also runs the Northern Chinese spot Tao, two locations of the gluten-free dim sum spot Riz, and more recently, Steamed Legend just a few doors down.
The modestly designed restaurant receives its shipments of crabs and oysters from Vancouver and P.E.I. lobsters every two days.
The thing to get here are the crabs which are tossed in a flaming wok before being doused in a rich curry sauce that’s more sweet than spicy, but still packs a little kick.
Served bare, the price for crab is seasonal but averages around $60 per two pounds, which is just enough for two people but could leave some hankering for more.
The result is a messy plate of saucy deliciousness that looks amazing even without garnish.
I highly recommend putting on the gloves and bib provided – it might cramp your style, but any sacrifice is worth the ability to feast on this dish uninhibited.
An absolute must side order is a plate of French baguette ($1.75) – or even better – the flaky, buttery roti ($4.95).
The leftover crab-flavoured curry on your plate is the best dipping sauce you could ask for.
If you haven’t jumped the gun and ordered the crab right away, the Vietnamese platter ($18.95) comes with shareable starter essentials like spring rolls, rice crepes, satay chicken skeweres, pâté, and sugar cane shrimp.
The crispy spring rolls are my favourite but the cold rolls make for good vegetarian bites.
Huge charbroiled oysters ($5.95 each) come slathered in a garlic butter and lemongrass mixture, cooked with a salamander heater at the end to achieve the desired texture.
Another popular dish here is the black pepper lobster, which on average costs $26 per pound but fluctuates seasonally. Topped with some onions and peppers, the dish is a simple go-to for seafood lovers.
Vietnamese-style grilled rack of lamb ($26.95) with dry seasoning is incredibly tender and comes with a sauce that at first looks like oil but is actually a limey vinaigrette dip that’s light and fresh.
The best dishes aren’t exclusively seafood; another star of the show is the pork neck ($10.95) which is grilled with a honey marinade and served in lean pieces that allow you to eat with less guilt than you would a fatty slice.
Because you’ll definitely be needing a drink to go with the meal, Saigon carries bottles of Tiger or Tsingtao beer, and fruit smoothies like strawberry, mango, and avocado.
To finish the whole meal off, the Vietnamese version of Halo Halo serves as dessert.
While Saigon’s menu offers an extensive list of Thai, Viet and Chinese meals, the best way to go here is all out. Save your dollars on standard dishes like pho and instead get your hands dirty with seafood that’s top notch.