Swat it!

Dragonfly darts with a tedious buzz

Opened some six months ago on Inwood Road just north of Forest Lane, Miss Saigon is owned by Andy Dizon, whose previous restaurant forays include a Chinese restaurant in Shreveport, Louisiana. The menu is packed with noodle and rice dishes, soups and creations born of pork, beef, chicken and seafood--the usual stuff. And contrary to the name, it reflects more Northern Vietnamese influences--where Chinese culinary touches are prominent--rather than the south, where lively herbs and spices are used in greater force.

Consequently, many of Miss Saigon's menu selections are ho-hum. Sweet and sour soup with tiny shrimp had none of the starkly assertive contrasts that make this pottage so satisfying. And the summer rolls, huge, bumpy logs sheathed in a thick, semi-transparent rice wrap, were marred by badly browning lettuce, though thin slices of pork were fresh and succulent, and the shrimp was sweet.

Seafood salad fared far better. With grilled mussels, surimi (imitation crab), calamari, and shrimp over a bed of lettuce, mint, and shavings of white radish with cucumber and tomato, the seafood had a good grill flavor, while the tangy spiced dressing was a real palate sparkler.

And despite a rather pedestrian assembly, the shrimp toast--simple white bread blanketed with shrimp, onions, and egg--was moist, firm, and sweetly satisfying.

Other standouts speckled the menu as well. A lunch selection with garlic chicken over Napa cabbage, carrots, pea pods, broccoli, cauliflower, and onion was tender and succulent with freshly resilient vegetables, though the rice was a bit dry. Charbroiled marinated pork over vermicelli ringed with a mixed green salad was nearly stellar. Thin strips of grilled pork surged with tangy, savory flavors, and the vermicelli was fresh and supple. But the whole thing was dimmed by the salad, which was infected with more badly browning lettuce.

Another lunch selection, lemongrass beef, was dry, tough, and sinuous with a strong soapy taste--no hint of lemongrass flavor here. Though lightly satisfying, the crab-asparagus soup was clogged with mushy (most likely canned) asparagus stalks in a tired shade of military fatigue green sharing space with egg, flecks of crab, and significant strands of surimi--more stuff from the land of ho-hum.

Though billed as one of Miss Saigon's specialties, the "pancit noodles--Filipino style" with pan-seared shrimp, pork, and chicken tossed over julienne vegetables and vermicelli noodles lumbered without any distinctive flavors.

Miss Saigon has a clean, spacious dining room with soft hues jolted awake by deep royal blue shades that soak the carpet, portions of the ceiling, and the planters that appear to be painted plastic pickle buckets perforated with drain holes.

Its execution can be summed up as value-added, high-performance adequacy. Nothing here will shift you into hyperdrive, but it won't bog you down in a sputtering culinary asphyxiation either.

Dragonfly Bar & Restaurant, 2001 Greenville Ave., (214) 824-2200. Open Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-3 a.m. $$-$$$

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