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“Large serving sizes”
Review of Golden Bell Saigon

Golden Bell Saigon
Ranked #1,337 of 3,725 Restaurants in Calgary
Cuisines: Vietnamese
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Delivery
Neighbourhood: Beltline
Reviewed 21 January 2014

Not as good as I remembered it from a long time ago, but still a decent lunch choice if you're in the area. Prices are fair (for Calgary) and portions are large. But if it's any marker, the clientel is mostly not of Asian ethnicity. Servers are quick and efficient. Meals are out of the kitchen within 5-10min.

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Thank lipita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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23 - 27 of 34 reviews

Reviewed 6 August 2013

It’s been a general rule I’ve discovered that if you want to find a successful independent restaurant, you drive to a large shopping center and walk around it. I mean walk “around” it, like outside. They’re never inside, but across the street is prime real estate, often snatched up by Boston Pizzas, Earls, and Red Lobsters—the latter I found this day in Calgary. I was outside the Chinook Center—named for the region of the city the mall is in, which in turn was named not for subset of Native Americans, the dog from New England, or the famous helicopter, but rather the stiff wind falling from Western mountains like the gaseous discharge from an elderly man with an ineffectual gastrointestinal tract. And as predicted, the mall proudly boasts several major restaurant chains including the aforementioned Boston Pizza. After a complete orbit of the mall in a sweltering heat which made the wandering hobos actually shiny, I was about ready to give up and walk to a place called State & Main, surely a chain, until I finally found my destination, nestled a block from that outcast Red Lobster.

Golden Bell Saigon

By the way, did you know there is a scientific study revolving around flatulence…it’s called flatology.
No kidding.

This was perfect; one of my favorite local restaurants is Vietnamese and I jumped at the chance to compare them. Right from the get-go, I was hit with the impression that I had entered a posh eatery…in actual Vietnam. Tiles were broken, wallpaper was peeling, and the only entertainment came via a pair of tube TVs in the distant corner. That’s right, actually CRT televisions. This is not a restaurant, it’s a movie set for the next Bourne movie. I’m not complaining, this place was great. I once entered into a worthless argument with a friend where he mentioned his adoration for restaurants with zero décor. I don’t praise zero décor but I do admire worn décor, like the scars of a veteran after a lifetime of service. Zero décor is lazy. Weathered décor shows character. The staff unfortunately also shared that grizzled nature, long drained of any desire to smile or treat customers with a modicum of appreciation. I actually felt like I was imposing. I will take a moment to shout out at the deceptive strength of the elderly lady that waited on me; with plier-like pincer grip on a tray, full bowl of pho stable at the far end, GI Joe action figures had nothing on this woman. Following my pattern, I opened with spring salad rolls and concluded with a bowl of mixed meat in hot broth. Between those, I also ordered a grilled chicken brochette.

The amount of food delivered cannot be understated. Although I will criticize the shrimp salad rolls in exactly 47 words, I have to admire the fact that I received three of those rolls for $5.95. The chicken was only $3.95. Three courses with a tip and I barely broke a twenty. Not bad. However, even though I said chicken was good, once again I have to criticize the dipping sauce accompanying the shrimp salad rolls. I actually heard a complaint recently that my local Vietnamese restaurant U&Me has dipping sauce too close to peanut butter and is not reflective of authentic practices. Don’t care, it’s better. That’s it, just better. The pho at the Golden Bell was fantastic, but it had to be. Not putting any pressure, I’m just stating that if a Vietnamese restaurant can’t deliver a perfect Pho, it’s doomed.
By the time I left, the Golden Bell was surely ringing, packed end to end with people. Clearly I had not stumbled upon some forlorn restaurant fading under the shadow of the nearby Red Lobster but rather a word-of-mouth gem known to many but never spoken openly. If I was nearby, I could see frequenting it, an easy choice over the established competition around. Despite the rough edges and uneven service, Golden Bell Saigon was a pleasant discovery and worthy of recommendation.
As a final note, the bill came accompanied by a fortune cookie. I can’t really spend another 500 words in this review conveying how out of place it was to receive something invented by the Japanese, adopted by the Chinese, produced almost entirely by the Americans in a Vietnamese restaurant in Canada. Having said that, my fortune said, “Watch for a new relationship to develop within the month.” Although a complete coincidence, I did admire that fact that this one ended up being accurate…

Food: 4/5
Service: 2/5
Presentation: 2/5
Value: 5/5
Recommendation: 3.25/5

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1  Thank PrinceGastronome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 July 2013 via mobile

Massive bowls of beef pho for under ten bucks. All ingredients were fresh and delicious. Hard to beat.

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1  Thank TheTravelBites
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2013 via mobile

The girls who work here are darling and they remember your regular after 2 visits!
We've had the seafood soup, the vietnamese subs and all the apps but I cannot get past 74b. It's my favourite - with cantaloupe bubble tea. DELICIOUS. Great value, excellent service, young and funky neighbourhood joint. LOVE IT!

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1  Thank AlyssaSaturley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 May 2013

I was looking forward to a nice sate soup and was pleased to see that this was a feature of the Golden Bell. My wife probably made a big mistake by ordering their version of a Thai curry. My peanut sate soup was bland and starchy and my wife's curry was WHITE, pasty and sweet. Perhaps "adobe2" says about their food that one "can't complain too much" because the server never asked us if our meals were satisfactory. I did ask a young couple dining on the patio how they enjoyed their meals and he said his vermicelli noodles were very good...she did not respond other than a smile. So I conclude that the Golden Bell probably cooks some dishes wells, just not the ones we ate on May 20 2013...

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1  Thank Richard289
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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