In Lunching in Northwest, a companion to our Lunching in Little Rock blog series, Kody Ford will explore and review Northwest Arkansas’ best restaurants – all in time to get back to the office. This week, Kody ate lunch at Saiwok Vietnamese Street Food at 2882 W. Walnut St. Click here to read more from #LunchinginLR and #LunchinginNWA. Photography by Kody Ford.
It’s 14,330 miles from Saigon to Rogers, Ark., give or take. But you don’t need to buy a plane ticket or deal with the layovers to have Vietnamese street food because Saiwok has you covered. Tucked away in an unassuming building off Walnut Street, the restaurant has become a hotspot for Northwest Arkansas foodies and, rumor has it, some of the area’s top chefs. Given the buzz, I decided I had to check this out for my first “Lunching in Northwest” blog post.
We arrived on a lazy Saturday afternoon after the lunch rush. Saiwok’s modern and relaxed ambience won me over instantly. The back wall featured a mural by artist Sasha Rayevskiy aka Tiger Sasha – a local master of graffiti art.
Saiwok has been open for a little over a year. The menu was primarily developed by Bryan Nguyen and his son, Vuong. Popular items include soups and bowls along with the smoked pork belly fries. I’ll be honest, the legend of these fries brought me here. And they did not disappoint. Word to the wise – unless you skipped breakfast (and probably dinner last night) – share these things. It’s a very generous portion. Featuring smoked pork belly, scallions, a fried egg and sauce, these fries are so good you’ll howl at the moon, even if it is daylight.
Two things jump out about the menu – the low, low prices and the tasty, tasty delights. We decided to kick things off with one of their Small Shareable Sidewalks: the brussel sprouts. These veggies aren’t your Mama’s brussel sprouts. They have a perfect crunch and a citrus chili glaze to offset the bitterness of this notorious vegetable.
For the main course, I split the Duck, Duck Goose and the Smoked Pork Belly Steam Buns (yes, it was a theme for the day) with a friend. Both of these were incredible and I even enjoyed the shrimp chips, which caught me by surprise. Next time, I plan to check out the banh mi or maybe a Saiwok bowl. So many choices, but I’ll be back and I’ll bring friends for the best food this side of Ho Chi Minh City.