One of the first places Barbara and I ever went out to when we started dating was a little hole-in-the-wall at SE 32nd Place and Hawthorne. It was a former hot dog stand with four or five tables, but it had been taken over by a Vietnamese family and in the transition they’d named it Saigon Café and Doggie Delight. They changed the name relatively quickly.
The first time we went there, we ate Five Spice Chicken, which became a staple of our (well, Barbara’s) home cooking menu.
As it happens, some 15 years later, when I moved my freelance office out of downtown, I ended up across Hawthorne from the restaurant, and —along with At the Hop (30th & Hawthorne) and Fu Jin (35th & Hawthorne)—they were the triumvirate of my lunchtimes. All long gone now.
The woman who ran Saigon Café sold the business when she grew ill, and it was an Italian restaurant for some years, before it became Chiang Mai—a Thai restaurant—about a decade ago. Walking past on my way home from work yesterday, I noticed it had closed; I’m assuming it and the attached house are going to be ground up in the Portland apartment boom.