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I absolutely love Vietnamese food and Saiwok did not disappoint.
The setting has a very modern, sleek feel, but one that is also quite comfortable and casual. You order at the counter from a somewhat small, yet enticing menu. Shareable items like shishitos, edamame, dumplings, tofu bites, and smoked pork belly fries are available, the latter of which proved to be too irresistible for our group to pass up. In the past, I’ve found that crinkle-cut fries topped with chunks of pork belly, mayo sauce and a fried egg tend to be delightful. This was definitely the case with Saiwok’s offering. Treat these fries like an entrée for one or heed the restaurant’s suggestion and make it a shareable appetizer.
The menu also includes a variety of banh mi sandwiches, pho, and rice bowls, along with what I am guessing is the crown jewel menu item: the Saiwok Lava Rock.
Bite-size portions of raw protein, either shrimp or beef, and side items of zucchini, sliced mushroom, garlic butter, seasoning, and house-made marinades are served with a small, rectangular-shaped, piping hot rock on which to cook. Everything is uncooked, so it’s your job to be the chef. Our group ordered the beef, which ended up needing only a dash of the salt-based seasoning and about a minute per side of sizzling on the rock to achieve medium-rare doneness. The skewer of zucchini and sliced mushrooms might need a little longer, depending on preference.
Once done, you dip each tender piece of goodness into the marinade, talk with friends, dip some more, and repeat the process. This goes on for about 20 minutes, which is actually just the right amount of time before one tires of seeing steam rise from a rock. The process is fun, interactive, and above all, tasty. Both the lava rock and fries were met with favorable reviews, as was our order of pork belly and soft-shell crab steam buns.
If you’re new to the steam bun game, please broaden your horizons a bit and give them a try. The soft bun is mild in flavor but acts as a perfect, foldable canvas for pickled vegetables, meats, and slaw. Saiwok’s soft-shell crab steam bun was both visually appealing and tasty, but the pork belly offering stole the show with that beloved balance of sweet and salty.
Overall, Saiwok made a great first impression- so much so that I definitely would not hesitate to go back on my next journey to Rogers. I’m thinking maybe a visit during the cooler months is in order, so I can really appreciate some of the pho.
And one of those lava rocks.
Did You Know?
Saiwok has a full bar, including 15+ beers on tap.
Saiwok Vietnamese Street Food
2882 Walnut St (Rogers)
Phone: (479) 202-5961
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Closed Sunday
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