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Rejoice! Vietnamese Fusion Food is Here

Locals are celebrating the opening of Saba Café, a brand new Vietnamese-fusion restaurant that serves pho, and so much more.

“For Redwood City and the lower peninsula, this is EXACTLY what I’ve been waiting for!”

“By far, the best Vietnamese-fusion restaurant in the Bay Area!”

What are these people raving about? Hamilton Street’s brand new Vietnamese restaurant,

Locals are raving about this brand new restaurant, which just “sprouted” around the corner from the a few short weeks ago.

When it comes to Vietnamese food, pho is the usual rage, but many are saying, Saba Café doesn’t limit itself to the popular trend—rather, they take Vietnamese cuisine to a whole new level for the peninsula.

“Saba Café has delicious food that captures the essence of Vietnamese cooking, if not particularly ‘classic’ dishes,” writes Caroline B. of Redwood City on Yelp. “I appreciate their creativity, rather than just filling in the menu with chow mein and spring rolls, as other places do. Most Vietnamese restaurants around the area assume that you will order pho when you go to their restaurant—which is rarely the case for me—so they exert no amount of effort on the rest of their menu. Not so at Saba.”

Saba’s menu is diverse, featuring everything from salads, to Pho noodles, curries, vermicelli plates, soups, seafood and more, all with what the owners like to call "kick-you-in-the-mouth" flavor.

"The marinades, the spices, the homemade sauces, add a dimensionality of flavors that you will not find in everyday Vietnamese cuisine," says general manager Roger Barr.

Barr says the head chef - who is also the owner's mother - buys all ingredients for the day's cooking each morning on her way into the restaurant.

"There are no freezers in this restaurant, at all. She shops every single morning for the fish, meat and produce," he said. "So, every single thing we serve is farm-to-table."

The Saba way of doing things seems to be resonating with customers - the majority of reviews on Yelp are between four and five stars.

“Must-haves are the eggplant and tofu, salmon wrapped in banana leaf, and sea bass in a clay pot,” Betsy H. of Atherton wrote.

As for Saba’s prices, many say they are much lower than one would expect.

“Think Tamarine in Palo Alto, but not quite as upscale, and much less pricey,” wrote Marcus K. of Palo Alto on Yelp. “It’s the perfect combo!”

Most of Saba’s appetizers and salads are all $9 and under; pho is $10 and under; and you would be hard-pressed to find any other entrée on the menu above $10, as well. Specialty drinks are all $4 and under, and many Yelpers say you can get a great bottle of sake for your table for $20, or the perfect bottle of wine for $30.

The décor is not for someone looking for a homey-feeling restaurant—but many are complimenting Saba’s ultra-modern look. Some describe it as what they imagine the kitchen of an “Apple Genius” would look like.

Other small touches many of the café’s first customers are saying they appreciate are the fact that Barr and the owner make a point to come out and check on nearly every table in the restaurant, to make sure diners' meals are exactly what they had hoped for; and the fact that, even if someone is just waiting for a to-go order, he or she is served cucumber water and shrimp chips with dipping sauce.

Some Yelpers are also buzzing about the fact that, for its grand opening, the staff of Saba has been known to offer a free glass of wine to accompany your entrée if you show them you “checked in” on Yelp when you arrived.

Saba Café is open Mondays through Saturdays, for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner service begins at 5 p.m. Saba is located around the corner from the Fox Theatre at 823 Hamilton Street. Call 650-257-3759 or visit www.sabacaferwc.com.

Jamie White (Editor) October 17, 2011 at 02:12 PM
This place sounds great! Can't wait to try it!
TJ October 17, 2011 at 04:10 PM
So awesome! Can't wait to try their banh mi for lunch
wotten1 October 17, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Never expected what a restaurant did NOT have would be an enticement, but on learning this restaurant does NOT have a freezer---that its daily ingredients are purchased each morning by its head chef has me anxious to pay a visit. That the fish dishes will be fresh is incentive enough to set my GPS for Saba Cafe!
Reality Check January 04, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I'll be interested to see what you think. Compared to SF's Saigon Sandwich or even RWC's own Hometown Noodle on Middlefield (near 5th), we didn't think much of their banh mi. Even factoring in that it's a sit-down restaurant and that they come with a small and unremarkable token salad, $8 to $10 for a mediocre banh mi seems overpriced. To be fair, this is based on a single visit during their "pre-opening" period, and it's possible they've stepped up their game since them.

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