Eat This: Le Delights Banh Mi and Pho aka The Return of Saigon Le’s Veggie Spring Rolls
Ed. Note: I’m happy to bring you this blog post from ILM contributor and Memphis foodie Stacey Greenberg.
Look who I found! Tuyen Le, the amazing woman who worked at Saigon Le in the Crosstown neighborhood, is now at Le Delights Banh Mi and Pho in Cordova. For those of us who have been in mourning since Saigon Le burned down in 2016, this is excellent news.
I’ve been twice now, once with friends and once with my monkeys & my mom. I’m here to inform you that if you live near Le Delights, you’re lucky, and you don’t live nearby – you have a very good reason to drive to Cordova.
Le Delights is located in the old Osaka space, and has the same owners. Despite being in a strip mall, the inside feels airy and bright. Everything seems nice and new, and the layout and decorations are lovely. You’ll find it on Macon Road at Germantown Parkway, near the Cordova Malco.
They don’t serve alcohol, but they do allow you to bring in your own. As far as drinks go, they offer energy drinks with chia, tea, coffee, and smoothies. They also have my favorite, salted lemonade, which is made with fermented lemons.
Tuyen isn’t officially cooking at Le Delights, but her famous Saigon Le vegetarian egg rolls are on the menu, listed as Le Delights Vegetarian Roll. Made with tofu and vegan ham, they are just like you remember. They come served with a plate of greens for wrapping (cilantro, basil, etc.) and tangy dipping sauce. (I don’t exactly know what vegan ham is, but I dare say it tastes like meat.)
The appetizer section also features an amazing selection of specialty wraps and rolls. We couldn’t resist the beef jerky roll with shredded green papaya, shredded mango, and shredded beef jerky. Yes, beef jerky. But it wasn’t tough at all. Wrapped in rice paper with rice noodles and peanuts, it was tangy and delightful.
As the name suggests, Le Delights specializes in banh mi and pho. Let’s talk about the banh mi first, which is basically the Vietnamese version of a po boy. Served on French bread, it comes dressed with cucumber, green onion, and (deseeded) jalapeno peppers. There’s a salad of pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cilantro, celery, and two sauces on the side for fancying it up.
There are two pages of banh mi to choose from on the menu, including the original (steamed pork, pork sausage, ham & pork pate), spicy stone grilled short ribs, filet mignon, chargrilled lemongrass chicken, pan seared fish patties, and a vegan option with taro root and tofu.
I’m going to be honest, sometimes the pork pate on the original banh mi weirds me out, so I was happy we tried the more palate-friendly chargrilled lemongrass chicken. Oh my, yum. I may have found the world’s most perfect sandwich.
Hiding on the bottom of the banh mi section is Le Delights Bao Tacos. That’s right, tacos made with steamed buns (bao). They come in threes and you can mix and match meats–honey glazed pork, grilled beef short ribs, lemongrass chicken, roasted pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, and vegan ham. The tacos are massive and would be enough on their own to get anyone full. They do not come dressed, but the same sauces and sides that accompanying the banh mi are there for the taking.
Ok, now for their other specialty, pho. I am not a pho fan, but my oldest monkey is. He begged me to let him get the Kobe beef pho (at market price), but I talked him down to the filet mignon. It came in a huge bowl with all the fun fixings on the side and was spot on. He, and soon his brother, made sure there wasn’t a drop left. If you are craving pho, Le Delights is an excellent place to get your fix. They have vermicelli bowls too.
Over my two visits I also got a chance to try a few of the stir fries–the tofu, the chicken and the lemongrass shrimp. They were all colorful thanks to an abundance of veggies–bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, onion and bok choy. The sauces were not overpowering and they seem like hearty, healthy options.
And finally, there’s dessert. They have a number of sundaes and my crazy friend ordered one with durian because she once had a durian popsicle she liked. Let’s just say that durian is not for everyone. This fruit is known for its super stinky smell and even stinkier taste, but in its defense, it is considered a delicacy in many Asian countries.
Tuyen made sure we really wanted the durian and offered to take it out, but my crazy friend persisted. It was…how shall I say it? Yuck. My other friend said it tasted like the ear medicine her mother gave her as a child. But! We were able to eat around the durian and enjoy the coconut ice cream, avocado, whipped cream and whatnot.
If durian IS your thing, please note that there is also a durian smoothie on the menu. Personally, I would recommend the avocado smoothie which is the big seller, and actually delicious.
After the durian disaster, Tuyen brought us a big plate of fresh fruit to cleanse our palates because she’s a sweetie. The pineapple, blood orange and papaya were a welcome treat. (On my second visit, Tuyen brought us a treat of tasty fried wontons.)
She really wants to open her own restaurant in Midtown, but until then, Tuyen is enjoying seeing her midtown customers at Le Delights. She says if you catch her when it’s not busy, she’ll cook up whatever you like. She works Thursday to Sunday, but any day is a good day to eat at Le Delights as they are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (and 10 p.m. on weekends).
There are plenty of vegetarian and some vegan options.
Le Delights Banh Mi and Pho
8095 Macon Road
Cordova, Tennessee 38018
About The Author
Stacey Greenberg is a freelance writer who lives in Cooper Young with her two teenaged sons. She’s a contributor to Thrillist.com, Edible Memphis, I Love Memphis, and Memphis Travel. She’s also the author of the award winning blog, Dining with Monkeys (diningwithmonkeys.com). A lifelong Memphian, she loves the fact that she’s never met a stranger here.