Huong Giang and Salima, the two restaurants I profiled this week, aren't the only Vietnamese restaurants to open up on MLK Way after Sound Transit mucked up the street. Besides Joy Palace, the Chinese-Vietnamese dim sum house I wrote about back in August, Saigon Pearl, a rather ordinary Vietnamese restaurant in the Pike Street QFC complex, recently took over a failing hot-pot restaurant and have turned it into a bar, lounge, and upscale restaurant.
Saigon Pearl II is pure ambition, a warehouse space with a huge flat-screen TV on one end and shiny surfaces everywhere. The menu is geared toward Vietnamese American diners rather than outsiders, and features tempting, hard-to-find dishes like sauteed frog, goat hot pot, and grilled wild boar -- plus another menu of not-translated "drinking snacks" designed to accompany bottle upon bottle of 33. I didn't include Saigon Pearl in the review because I stumbled on the place too soon after its opening date, and the staff didn't have it together yet. However, based on the fragrant banana-flower salad I tasted (rather than the gringo-friendly fried noodles the waitress foisted on me), the place is worth keeping an eye on. If anyone goes, let me know what you tried.
Saigon Pearl, 5178 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., Seattle, 760-9293. Open for dinner and late night.