Guest Post By Shiv MacFarlane
Location can be everything to a successful business, but in the case of Bagolac Saigon, a lemongrass grill located two blocks from Chinook Mall just off of Macleod Trail and a stone-skip from the LRT (6130 1A St SW), location is just the first of many impressive features. Despite being easily accessible, Bagolac Saigon keeps a demure front, hidden between a novelty shop and a tiny little Subway, yet still manages to fill the entire parking lot all by itself.
Over the last 2 years, I have watched this fine restaurant pull itself up from its own boot straps, with the new management undertaking extensive renovations, both to the building and to the menu, and the staff being trained in impeccable etiquette which shows in the excellent, prompt, noninvasive service. The owners, Mary and Peter, greet guests personally, oversee the operations of the restaurant on a day to day basis, and are as friendly and engaging as their servers.
Our visit to Bagolac was hosted by owners Mary and Peter, and our table was attended by Hong, one of our regular servers. She was prompt and efficient but not intrusive, giving us all the space and time we needed to sample and converse amongst ourselves, and to take in the atmosphere. Lacking the oft-irritating background radio, the restaurant did not give the impression of either being too empty, or too tightly packed. We arrived early just before the dinner rush, and though the restaurant filled to capacity quickly, there were more than enough staff to comfortably handle the rush without overwhelming either guests or servers. The space was well used, with dividers just under our standing eye level to give the restaurant an open and comfortable atmosphere, while no two tables were too close to make diners inadvertently share their experience with one another.
The food, too, was promptly served and excellently prepared. Our appetizers of (30) Sea Ghost Fingers, a baked ball of seafood wrapped in an elegant, edible display, and (24) Deep Fried Spring Rolls were both customarily hot and delicious, without the greasy, oily overtones many similar restaurants can’t seem to escape. The main courses were also delicious, an incredible (134) Thai Stir Fried Chicken with Green Curry Sauce, its subtle hints of coconut and peanut oil accenting the (133) Stir Fried Chicken with Spicy Sate Sauce nicely, offsetting its glowing sate heat without overwhelming the meal. (57) Bagolac Saigon Special Seafood in Rice Noodle Soup featured a savory, delicious broth and large pieces of scallop, big tender shrimp, and crab meat, and the (74) Vietnamese Beef Stew with Rice Noodles Soup added a little heat to the soup course without sacrificing the flavor.
The fresh ingredients, well-chosen spices, and cultured, traditional dishes are all prepared by cooking staffs who does not sacrifice efficiency or quality, with a knack for display and aesthetics which complement the newly refurbished and cleanly renovated restaurant atmosphere. The professional and knowledgeable staff is always on hand, comfortably at the ready but don’t, frankly, take part in your meal themselves, leaving you amply opportunity to enjoy your guests, or simply take in the comfortable environment on your own. Having sampled many Vietnamese places in Calgary and abroad, there are many great places to eat, but when it comes to the delicious south-east Asian cuisine of a well-tempered Lemongrass Grill, Bagolac Saigon tops my list on all counts.
And if quality of service, environment, location or food can’t sell you on it? The price, too, can’t be beat. But don’t take my word for it: stop in yourself and try it out. The price is definitely right.