Food Diaries Friday is a series on my blog where I write (and rate) my “food adventures” in my last semester at Cornell (and maybe beyond!). This is only the first installment!

Saigon Kitchen is a Vietnamese Restaurant in Ithaca, NY, located in downtown Ithaca. It’s (unfortunately) not a restaurant that I frequent because it’s inaccessible by bus (using “inaccessible loosely here; it’s just near a bus stop but it’s definitely walkable) so when I’ve gone in the past it’s usually due to a car-driving friend. That said, it’s about a 25 minute walk if you start from the edge of campus in Collegetown (and even less if you bus to the Commons!). The walk is definitely not bad, if the weather isn’t bad and you’re dying for good Vietnamese food.

That’s exactly what my boyfriend and I did a few Fridays ago–I have a lighter Friday schedule this semester (ending at around 4PM instead of 7PM, like last semester) so we started walking down there at around 5:15pm. Even though we got there before six, the place was packed–a clear indication of how much locals and Cornell students alike love this place. We were seated, though, in about 15 minutes.

What I love about Saigon Kitchen is that they have vegetarian options–specifically, vegetarian pho–which is what I get there every time I go. There’s another Vietnamese restaurant in Collegetown (which would’ve been a lot closer), but they only use meat-based broth (I think it’s beef?) in their pho–and actually I feel like I’ve only been to a handful of Vietnamese restaurants that serve a vegetarian version of the famous noodle soup, so naturally I had to get it when I went on Friday.

The pho came with beansprouts and basil (and of course a variety of spicy condiments), but it’s mostly topped with crunchy veggies (broccoli, peppers, carrots, etc–tasted pretty fresh!) and tofu:

Bowl of pho with bean sprouts, basil, mushrooms, tofu, and more veggies

Honestly, it’s dishes like this that helps me feel like I’m not “missing anything” when it comes to being vegetarian. The broth was hearty, well-seasoned, and since it was served with a variety of fresh vegetables and rice noodles, it was also pretty filling.

For the price ($11), I would say it’s pretty fair for what you would typically get in Ithaca (I think compared to the suburbs of GA, eating out in Ithaca is quite expensive)–I wouldn’t say that the portion was large, (in fact a friend of mine from Ithaca told me they’ve gotten stingier with their portions as of late), but it’s enough to sustain you for dinner for sure. Overall, a fun treat on a Friday night if you’re willing to walk a little bit.

Besides, look how happy I was when I got my food!

Me smiling with a big bowl of veggie pho in front of me!