There’s a new taste of Vietnam open in Livonia.
Saigon Boulevard, a restaurant featuring Vietnamese cuisine such as pho and bun, opened its doors in mid-January at 30975 Five Mile in Livonia. It’s the creation of Novi resident Van Nguyen, the first restaurant she’s opened.
“I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant because I’ve always loved to serve all the authentic food to the community,” said Nguyen, who moved to the United States from Vietnam 14 years ago. “This is a first, but we’ve been wanting to get into the restaurant business for a while.”
The restaurant — located in the space formerly occupied by a Mediterranean eatery in the Livonia Plaza shopping center east of Merriman — joins a growing number of area restaurants serving Vietnamese pho, a rice noodle soup made with ingredients such as scallions, onions and cilantro in a broth.
Nguyen said work took several months to get the space up renovated and prepared for a Vietnamese restaurant, including bringing in new equipment and revamping the kitchen.
“We started working on the construction back in July, so about four months to renovate and get everything changed out,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of work, but there’s still a lot of decoration to be done.”
In addition to pho and bun — which is a vermicelli noodle bowl made with bean sprouts, lettuce, cucumber and meat — the restaurant serves several rice dishes and appetizers.
Nguyen said she stuck with many dishes most of the general public will recognize and tried to make dishes that will appeal to those who may not have had Vietnamese cuisine before.
“We have most of the popular Vietnamese dishes,” she said. “The pho, which is the most stand out on the menu, is very authentic, healthy and fresh.
“The rice dish and the noodle dish, we tried to focus on most of the popular items that people will know.”
While the Livonia restaurant recently opened, that’s not it when it comes to new openings: Nguyen said she plans to open a second Saigon Boulevard in about two months in Novi. The restaurant currently offers dine-in service in line with the recent orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that caps occupancy at 25%.
Nguyen said for just opening and doing limited marketing, they received a good initial reception from people who live nearby and visit Livonia looking for something to eat. Having places like St. Mary Mercy Hospital just down the road also helps bring in hungry guests looking for something to eat.
“For carryout only considering, we’re doing pretty good for this time of the year with all this craziness going on,” Nguyen said.
She said they hope to offer catering for offices and other business groups in the future.
The Livonia restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. More information, including a menu and link for online ordering, can be found at saigon-blvd.com, though Nguyen said they were still working on finalizing the website.