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Vietnamese restaurant opens in Oakwood
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Pho tai chin nam (beef rare soup) from Saigon Deli in Oakwood. Patrons may also wish to add to their soup extra ingredients such as bean sprouts, jalapenos or lime. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hall County residents who love pho now have a new place to go.

Saigon Deli has opened in the Publix-anchored shopping center at 3446 Winder Highway in Oakwood.

The Vietnamese restaurant, which opened Jan. 31, offers the popular beef/chicken noodle soups, but the menu also features banh mi (sandwiches) and goi cuon (spring and summer rolls).

Sandwiches feature items that might be found on American menus, such as meatballs, grilled beef and tuna, but the toppings and spices are distinctive.

Vegetables, including onions and carrots, plus jalapenos, are in the mix.

Saigon Deli

What: Vietnamese restaurant

Where: 3446 Winder Highway, Oakwood

More info: 678-714-0008

A real flavor kick can also be found in the rolls, including veggie-filled chicken ones served with fish sauce, basil shrimp/tofu rolls served with peanut sauce and tuna rolls served with tangerine fish sauce.

“The first thing we would be proud of our Vietnamese food is it is so healthy,” said Shyla Enoul, partner in the business. “It balances out everything. The ingredients have a lot of vitamins.”

A lot of the spices used in cooking, including ginger and cinnamon, can help with certain health conditions, she said.

Saigon Deli also features an array of beverages, including hot and cold teas with such flavors as citrus, honey and jasmine, and smoothies featuring avocado, mango, strawberry and passion fruit, among other flavors.

Restaurant owner Lincoln de Oliveira said he is considering getting a license to serve alcohol.

Overall, it’s a condensed menu compared to other Vietnamese restaurants, which may have more than 100 items, Enoul said.

“Customers usually focus just on (pho) and the sandwiches,” she said.

The plan is for Saigon Deli to emphasize take-out orders and catering, rather than being a traditional sit-down eatery.

The restaurant has several tables lining two walls, but Enoul expects that coolers with food and drink items will replace tables on the side of the restaurant leading to the cashier.

“Our goal is to make (the deli) bigger than a kiosk but smaller than a regular restaurant — something like a Starbucks,” Enoul said.

So far, de Oliveira has been pleased with the community’s response.

“It’s been busy. We have struggled with the place being so small,” he said.