Search More


Sao Mai

203 1st Ave. New York, NY 10003 | East Village | 212-358-8880

Location Description:

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.

Related Stories (5)


  • Cuisine(s): Vietnamese
  • Hours: Daily 11am-10:30pm
  • Price: $$
  • Serving: Dinner, Lunch
  • Alcohol: Beer/Wine
  • Reservations: Accepted
  • Parking: Street
  • Payment Types: All Major Credit Cards
  • Features: Takeout, Vegetarian Friendly

Related Stories

  • Fork in the Road: Food News
    Last week, we did a lot of reporting on restaurants operating in the dark, doing whatever they could to provide light and food to those who needed it. We checked in on our review...
  • Fork in the Road: Reviews
    See what NYC's restaurant critics have been up to this week: Robert Sietsema thinks Sao Mai might be New York's best Vietnamese restaurant: "Situated on First Avenue in the East Village,...
  • Dining: Reviews
    No cuisine is as obsessed with fresh herbs as Vietnamese. Take the papaya salad ($8.50) at Sao Mai. In the moist toss of pale green fruit and bright orange carrots—both shredded into...
  • Fork in the Road: Photos
    At Sao Mai, the Goi Du Du (green papaya salad) is damn near unforgettable. This week , Counter Culture floats into Sao Mai ("Morning Star") a newish Vietnamese restaurant in the East...
  • Dining: Reviews
    It was an auspicious beginning: a squat stack of culantro nestled against the branches of Thai basil and crisp bean sprouts on the herb plate accompanying my pho. It's rare to find the dark...

Best of Award Recipient