If the success of a restaurant can be fueled by passion, then the newly opened Miss Saigon has a great chance. Only time will tell, but early indications are favorable for this new Vietnamese eatery's success.
Located at 9201 W. Center St., Miss Saigon is owned by Saigon native Kim Yim.
She spent 14 years in the restaurant business in Boston before moving to Milwaukee. Her decision to open a Vietnamese restaurant is based on her passion for the cuisine of her homeland and her desire to give people a great dining experience.
"This is a hard job to do, but I want people to feel peaceful and joyous when they eat here," Yim explained. "Everything I do, I want to put myself in their place. I want people to like the food and to feel welcome."
Dining at Miss Saigon is a hands-on experience. Yim brings the food to her customers and helps them understand how to eat it. She will happily explain how to mix in sauces or to tailor the spiciness of a dish to a customer's tastes. It is, in a sense, an education in Vietnamese cuisine, and it makes for a very personal meal.
"I really do care for the customer," Yim said. "I want the customer to be happy. This is my passion."
Some of the signature dishes at Miss Saigon include beef noodle soup ($7.25), sauteed black pepper beef ($7.25) and Vietnamese egg rolls ($3.50). The portions are generous, and the prices are more than reasonable.
The name of the restaurant comes from a combination of sentiments stemming from Yim's past: "I named it Miss Saigon because I grew up in Saigon and miss it, because I miss my brother, who I haven't seen since 1975, and because I love the musical 'Miss Saigon.' "
Miss Saigon is open at 9 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. This gives Yim time to prepare food before the lunch rush, and also accommodates local Vietnamese customers who enjoy eating soup early in the morning. On Sunday, the doors open at 10 a.m. Carry-out also is available.
Yim runs Miss Saigon with her daughter, Jessica Phan. Thus far, business has been brisk, but Yim wants customers to know she's still fine-tuning the service aspects of the restaurant and she apologizes if their food wasn't served in a timely manner. If the service comes close to Yim's passion, Miss Saigon should be around for a long time.
NAME: Miss Saigon
ADDRESS: 9201 W. Center St.
PHONE: (414) 258-8889
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday
PRICE RANGE: $3 to $7.75 (approximate)
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"Grab a Bite" is an informal look at the food scene in the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Elm Grove area by freelance writer Karen Waldkirch. Whether you're looking for a place for a date night or a casual spot for lunch, Waldkirch will be out and about scouting eateries for you. If you have a suggestion for a column, e-mail her at email@example.com.
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