Sao Mai

203 1st Ave.
New York, NY 10003
Critics' Pick
Best Of


  • Daily 11am-10:30pm
  • $$
  • Takeout, Vegetarian Friendly
  • Dinner, Lunch
  • Beer/Wine
  • Street Parking
  • Reservations Accepted
Sao Mai ("Morning Star"), far from Chinatown in the East Village, offers a Vietnamese menu that doesn’t stray into Cantonese territory, nor does it offer a useless variety of redundant dishes. The pho is probably the best in town, with a light broth barely scented with spices. The house signature variety features brisket, eye of round, and beef balls. The papaya salad is also superb, a crunchy heap of green fruit tendrils flavored with fish vinegar and Vietnamese mint, an herb rarely scene in Gotham. There are a couple of unique items on the menu, too, including an interesting sandwich that uses the banh mi format to showcase pho fixin’s. With its semi-private tables, this is a great place for a date.

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