Saigon’s Corner is set to open in the Old Capitol Town Center on Jan. 29

  • 274

Tyler Pham, at Saigon’s Corner in Old Capitol Mall — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Tyler Pham, the chef who helped make pho popular in the Iowa City area, is opening a second location of his restaurant, Saigon’s Corner, in the Old Capitol Town Center on Tuesday. Pham was a partner in Pho Zaika and I Love Pho, before striking out on his own and starting Saigon’s Corner in Coralville last year.

“I felt like I was ready to show people here what authentic Vietnamese food is,” Pham told Little Village about his decision to open Saigon’s Corner. “I feel a lot of the Vietnamese food Americans are familiar with is different from it really is in Vietnam.”

Members of Pham’s family have worked in restaurants in his native Vietnam for decades. It’s where he learned to make the pho that’s the main attraction at his restaurant.

“Pho is everywhere in Vietnam,” Pham said. “It’s just a part of everybody’s life. Like hamburgers here.”

Of course, pho, a soup with rice noodles and, usually, meat, is more versatile than a hamburger.

“You can eat it any time,” Pham said. “When the weather is cold, you need hot soup. When the weather is hot and you’re tired, the hot soup will make you feel better. It’s good for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

The key to good pho is the broth, and good broth takes time, Pham explained.

“We make the pho broth starting with beef bones,” Pham said. “You can come into my kitchen any time of the day, and you will find it cooking, low and slow.”

The broth simmers for a minimum of 24 hours before it’s ready.

“It takes a lot of care and attention,” Pham said.

The new Saigon’s Corner will be located in the former Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack space in the Old Capitol Town Center. Pham said he intends to keep the basic set-up of the restaurant the same.

“I think it’s comfortable,” Pham said. “And it’s important for the people to be comfortable when they are enjoying their food.”


Subscribe for daily news updates from Little Village


That attitude won’t surprise anyone who has been to the Coralville location, where Pham is known as a genial and attentive host.

Pho at Saigon’s Corner in Coralville. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

“I came to America to study electrical engineer, but I wasn’t happy doing that,” Pham said. “I couldn’t find any pho [when I was a student], so I started cooking pho myself.”

“My love for serving people authentic Vietnamese food has grown over the years,” he said. “It’s become my passion.”

“I love being in the mall,” Pham added. “I feel I’m ready to make Vietnamese food more popular in this area.”

  • 274
Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »


Iowa City Book Festival

Oct. 18-24

A celebration of books, writing and ideas

Find Out More


Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.