Pho Noodle Soup, A Secret 6 Hour Broth & More from Xuan Saigon
The Vietnamese restaurant Xuan Saigon isn’t out of the way but I managed to drive by twice before trusting that Waze knew what I didn’t, that this delightful Leesburg restaurant bears a discreet facade that belies its friendly, bright and delicious heart.
Alberto Santos owns Xuan Saigon. Prior to purchasing the business two years ago, he worked with the former owner while studying the ins-and-outs of a successful pho restaurant, observing the popularity of various menu offerings and learning the rhythms of the ebb and flow of patrons. Xuan Saigon has been rooted in its current spot in a small strip mall on Fort Evans Road in Leesburg for ten years. Alberto believes Xuan was the original owner’s name and in spite of having had four owners over the years, Xuan Saigon’s name has never been altered. Alberto is in this business because he loves Vietnamese food and enjoys celebrating its influences from French, Chinese and Indian cuisines. He is not Vietnamese. One parent is Chinese and one Filipino, and the name Alberto may have historical connections as far back as the 1600 and 1700s when the Philippines was a colony of the Spanish Empire.
Alberto lives just down the street from Xuan Saigon and has been known to ride his bike to the kitchen where for six hours, he simmers his secret broth concoctions in 10 gallon pots for his beef, chicken or vegetable Pho Soup. To maintain freshness for his beef broth, he will start over every two days with beef, a 10-15 pound bone, onion, ginger and a secret seasoning flavor that no proud pho soup chef shares freely. While we are talking about Alberto’s pho soup, I’m served a spring roll filled with fresh crunchy greens and shrimp pressed so securely against its translucent rice paper wrapping as to resemble stained glass.
Asked what is his favorite on the menu, Alberto named Pho Noodle Soup, his personal rendition of Vietnam’s traditional beef noodle soup. Xuan Saigon’s menu offers a “make it your own” pho soup with numerous additives and options including vietnamese meatballs, brisket, flank steak or all of these and more like extra noodles, onion vinegar or vegetables with basil, bean sprouts, jalapeños and limes on the side. Xuan Saigon’s menu will satisfy not just the pho fan but also the customer looking for an entree of vietnamese stir fry, a lemongrass chicken, shrimp, beef or pork or a vegan or vegetarian selection. Xuan offers Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich served on a french roll, a multitude of soup concoctions including Spicy Soup with Beef Shank Meat-Tendon and an ample Seafood Soup with Pho Noodle. The Special Menu category encourages us to try something new like grilled Chicken Satay or a Curry Puff, curry spiced chicken, potatoes, onions and carrots in a crisped puff pastry.
The crowd at Xuan Saigon are a mix of regulars, those who work or shop nearby and know Alberto and the staff from their daily lunches or dinners and visitors to the area who are exploring the nearby Leesburg outlets or historic area. All are greeted with exuberant friendliness, considerate accommodations for children and tables spread with fresh, healthy and delicious Vietnamese cuisine.
Xuan Saigon, 15 Fort Evans Road, NE, Leesburg, VA 20176 703/669-6714