Having worked on Nuns' Island for over seven years, I became a regular of Le Petit Sao's first location there (reviewed here). The family-run Vietnamese operation was an easy choice for lunch amid the island's limited, generic restaurant offering; a feeling apparently shared by many, judging from the regular lineups encountered there.
My patronage would come to an apparent end when my employer decided to pack up and relocate to Pointe-Saint-Charles at the end of 2017. Fate would prove otherwise; as a mere six months after our move, a new Sao would open just steps away from our new digs. And true to form, there was a modest wait before copping a table at lunchtime on this frigid Friday.
tagged: WAIT IN LINE
The small space feels bright and airy thanks to light earth tones and roll-up glass doors letting in an abundance of natural light. The lunch rush consisted of both eat-in and takeout groups, the latter no doubt taking advantage of Sao's smart-phone app pre-order function – which must be popular with nearby Nordelec's techie crowd.
With Vietnamese cuisine comes pho, the nation's iconic soup featuring rice noodles in a fragrant beef broth. One can easily make a meal out of this hearty, comforting dish; but it's also offered in mini format as part of a few lunch combos.
Those consist of bowls loaded with carbs (rice or noodles) and veggies (lettuce, cucumber, pickled carrots, chop suey); and topped with a choice of protein, an imperial roll and – of course – nuoc mam sauce for flavouring. The all-in-one-bowl proposition is very "in" these days, but alas I thought everything tasted a little flat.
Showing up right after peak lunch hour, it did not take us long to reach the counter and place our order in. Once done, guests seat themselves until a staff member brings the food to the table. Today things were a little slow – I even noticed a table get up to complain a couple times – but within reason. While I was not bothered by the delay, I was later told there was an issue with the ordering system; no biggie.
With their fourth location – Brossard's maison mère, Nuns' Island, Marché Atwater and now The Point – the Sao brand has added another popular spot to its collection. Those healthy, balanced bowls will no doubt draw an audience in this slowly-but-surely-gentrifying borough; I just wish the flavours were more pronounced.
Still; what a treat to have a reliable option so close to my workplace, just like the Nuns' Island days. The more things change, the more they stay the same…
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $13.45
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.