Golden Bell Saigon Vietnamese – Cheap Eats on 17th Ave
November 3, 2012
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Late on Friday evening, L and I finished up some business at our bank on 17th Ave. We were hungry and looking for a quick and healthy dinner. To me, the logical choice was Golden Bell, which was right across the street. L wanted to drive a bit further to our favourite Vietnamese restaurant, Song Han, but I was famished and wanted to eat immediately. Hell hath no fury like a Christine hungry.
Golden Bell is usually busy, and tonight was no exception. On 17th Ave, this was one of the best cheap and cheerful choices. Most of the dishes suffice for a filling meal and cost less than 10 bucks. In my last dozen or so visits, the staff were friendly and service efficient. Water gets popped down whether or not you ask for it, and menus are brought promptly upon arrival.
To start, L and I ordered a vegetarian sub ($5.00). The bread was warm – the interior was soft and exterior nicely toasted. The filling consisted of chunks of cucumber, thickly sliced tomatoes, onions and grated carrots. I could taste Japanese mayonnaise and I think, some cheese. For the price, I thought this was a good deal. It was as filling as a Subway foot long. I ended up eating the entire sub myself – as L won’t eat cucumbers or tomatoes.
I ordered the satay beef with spring rolls ($9.99) on vermicelli. I like the spring rolls at Golden Bell because the filling includes minced carrots, which gives it a natural sweetness. I also find the fish sauce at Golden Bell to be more pungent than other Vietnamese restaurants in Calgary or Vancouver. The vegetables included the standard lettuce, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts and little garnish of carrots. The beef looked like it was pounded thin and then grilled. I could only eat a little bit of my dish, as the vegetarian sub already filled me up.
L ordered lemongrass chicken with spring rolls. I preferred the chicken to the beef, as it was juicier meat and not as tough. L preferred the beef satay, which turned out to be a good thing, because that’s exactly what he had for lunch the next day. I liked how our server asked us if we wanted the leftovers wrapped up. However, a word of advice – the food is never as good the next day. It’s best eaten fresh, which makes sense when you realize vermicelli bowls are meant to be eaten immediately. It’s not like a curry that develops in time.
Though there are better Vietnamese joints in the city, there are fewer to be found along 17th Ave. Golden Bell is a bustling business, and for good reason. For convenience, price, and service, you can’t do better on the stripth. However, I haven’t made my way to Clive Burgers yet… which is something L and I have to do before we move out of the hood.