In Real Life: Saigon Oriental Restaurant in Wichita, KS


Mr. Hanh returns with our order and sets the giant white bowls of noodles and lettuce topped with steaming chicken in front of us. He bows, and Laurel and I dig in. It’s perfect, as usual. Boiled rice noodles and lettuce mixed with cilantro, mung beans, and chicken. And the delightful Saigon sauce, as they call it, which is some kind of carrot juice and fish sauce mixture. It’s just heavenly. And the spring roll? Fresh and stuffed with rice noodles and shrimp and pork.
I could eat Saigon every day.

Excerpt from Finding Fireflies by A.C. Williams

fireflies-watermarkMy romantic comedy, Finding Fireflies, is set in a fictional city called Tonkawa. But let’s be honest here, folks. If you’re from this area of Kansas, you’ll recognize it as the state’s biggest city, Wichita.

If you’ve spent any time in Wichita, you’ll know we have some of the best food in the world. Maybe I’m biased. But we have the best Lebanese and Vietnamese cuisine I’ve ever tasted. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to feature one of my favorite restaurants in one of my novels.

ef6ed947066c453dc0c0ff11444b6d98Featuring Saigon in Finding Fireflies also breaks one of my cardinal rules. I don’t usually use real people’s real names, but I did this time. Mr. Hanh is the actual owner of the Saigon restaurant in Wichita. I made the decision to use his real name for several reasons, but mainly because he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

So I guess this is a really lame way of paying tribute to him, his family, and his amazing noodle bowls. Thank you, Mr. Hanh, for always keeping my water glass filled, for your wonderful smile, and your welcoming heart.

Saigon Oriental Restaurant is located near 10th and Broadway in Wichita, Kansas. I took some liberties with the location in the novel, Finding Fireflies, but I’m not exaggerating about how delightful their food is. If you’re ever in Wichita, make plans to stop in.

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