Miss Saigon has built a devoted following since opening a decade ago in an unassuming strip mall across from the University of Arizona.

Diners routinely post glowing comments on websites such as Yelp, Urbanspoon and Tripadvisor.com.

"Probably the best pho I've ever had and I live in Los Angeles, where there are tons of Vietnamese restaurants. That says a lot," a woman from Rowland Heights, Calif., wrote on Yelp on Feb. 21.

But owner/chef Steve Ma was surprised - and delighted - to learn that Jim Harrison, the acclaimed poet and novelist, mentions Miss Saigon in his most recent book, "The Great Leader," which is partly set in Southern Arizona.

The protagonist is a recently divorced and retired police investigator who checks into the Arizona Inn while here on a case - and to see his mother, who lives in Green Valley.

Harrison writes: "He checked the pricey room service menu then walked a few blocks to a restaurant called Miss Saigon he had noted in the car. He had a splendid bowl of Vietnamese pho with tripe, meatballs, pork, hot chopped peppers, lime, and cilantro. ...

"His morale was high on his walk back to the hotel. A good meal would do that."

Ma said it sounded like Harrison was describing the Pho Xe Lua Dac Biet, the Miss Saigon special beef noodle soup, which includes rare, broiled-beef slices, tendon, tripe and meat balls. It sells for $6.99 for a small or $7.99 for a large. Customers can request pork instead of beef.

The New York Times review of Harrison's newest book described the prolific author as a keen observer of "everything he eats."

Harrison, whose writings about food includes "The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand," keeps a home in Patagonia.

He drew an overflow crowd at a poetry reading with Shelly Taylor at last year's Tucson Festival of Books.

Harrison may be most widely known for writing "Legends of the Fall," which was made into a movie starting Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins in 1994.

If you go

Miss Saigon

1072 N. Campbell Ave.


Miss Saigon Bar & Grill


4650 W. Ina Road


Inger Sandal