South X Saigon in Mid-West Houston Offers Creative Viet-Cajun Fare
In October 2022, chef Skip Nguyen took the 3991 Gessner location of Dan’s Wings and Seafood, and reconceptualized it to South X Saigon. It’s located just on the border of Westchase and Mid-West Houston; just a short distance from the Westpark Tollway. For his new restaurant, Nguyen created a Viet-Cajun-centered menu with complex dishes that extend beyond standard, boiled seafood. Houston Food Finder was invited to try many of the Nguyen’s creations, and I discovered a new favorite Viet-Cajun spot along the way.
For the time being, South X Saigon is offering an all-you-can-eat shrimp deal for $30, with nine shrimp-based options including gumbo, lo mein, Southside Pasta and a shrimp-only variation of the pan roast.
The Saigon Pan Roast, which instantly became a new obsession, is delivered with such flavor that it demands to be mentioned first. Sitting somewhere between a stew and a creamy bisque, the pan roast is loaded with hearty cuts of shrimp, crab and sausage. Served with a scoop of rice, the dish is earthy with a light acidity. While Nguyen is not shy with the Cajun seasoning, it never becomes overwhelming. (Side note: South X Saigon also has a shrimp-only version on the all-you-can-eat-shrimp menu. It is also delicious, but the original is definitely the way to go).
The menu sports a handful of appetizers and small bites such as gumbo, scampi, thin-cut onion strings and chicken wings. The cheesy boudin balls and Saigon eggrolls are standouts. The boudin is flavorful and oozes cheese when bit into and the eggrolls are simple, bite-sited and crispy, which allows the shrimp to be the star.
Nguyen’s menu features a section called Saigon SZN, which is filled with house specials, such as the aforementioned Saigon Pan Roast. The Southside Pasta is a bed of pasta mixed with vegetables and an Alfredo sauce fused with Viet-Cajun-style sauce, and topped with the protein of your choice. Great for non-seafood people, the crispy chicken, made with tender and juicy dark meat, adds a layer of texture to the dish and has been perfectly executed both times I’ve tried it (I may have gone back since this article visit… twice if you count Nguyen’s recent pop-up at Gristworks).
The Banh Boy, a po’ boy/banh mi hybrid, is a baguette filled with fried fish or shrimp rather than traditional cold cuts or pâté, but it’s still garnished with the traditional pickled carrots and cilantro. While not on the regular menu, Nguyen served it with shaking beef, adding another great option for those who don’t typically care for seafood.
Speaking of fried rice: South X Saigon has multiple options, including the bo luc lac (shaking beef), shrimp, crawfish and grilled chicken. The vegetables and protein are slightly seared, adding depth of flavor and, much like the pasta, showcasing Nguyen’s ability to add texture to dishes. Additionally, the “wok” section of the South X Saigon menu, features lo mein and fried soft-shell crab and frog legs. (Side note: a regular sitting at the adjacent table insisted that ordering the shaking beef over fried rice is a must.)
No Viet-Cajun restaurant is complete without boiled seafood. Nguyen has a selection that includes shrimp, snow crab and lobster, with sides, such as corn, turkey neck, potatoes, sausage and egg. Guests can opt for grilled seafood like tilapia, catfish salmon and shrimp. Fried options include shrimp, seafood and oysters.
Located close to, but just outside of Houston’s Asiatown, South X Saigon is a true hidden gem. Each interaction with Nguyen has been pleasant, and he made me feel a regular by the end of the first visit. Above all else, the food is a worthwhile display of not just the common Viet-Cajun dishes found in Houston, but also many of the chef’s own creations.
South X Saigon is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m.