Reviews of this Restaurant (8)
While I'm not an expert on Vietnamese food or dim sum, I've had a fair amount of experience in my past 15 years of serious eating. These cuisines have never steered me wrong when I've been traveling and need a fresh and affordable meal in places that are not on the main drag. Because of my positive experiences, I must say that I was more than a little excited about Pho Cafe Saigon. Sadly, it did not live up to my, perhaps inflated, expectations.
When I think of both Vietnamese and dim sum, I think of freshly made and handmade. Both of these attributes show a care and attention to the role that food can play in life beyond just fuel for the machine-body. This attention and care was not present consistently in my recent trip here.
On the positive side, the bahn mi was well flavored in terms of the meat's spiciness and tenderness, and the sub roll was filled with the freshness of crisp vegetables. The pho broth was delicious, and the noodles, while pedestrian were not over or under done. Sadly, the beef was overcooked, and the tongue was much too thick to chew efficiently. This resulted in much of the bowl left untouched.
On the dim sum menu, there existed a great deal of disorder. I feel like much of this might have been due to biting off more than one could chew (both from my and the restaurant's perspective). Dim sum requires a large enough customer base that the restaurant can make dumplings and steamed bao fresh. It does not seem to be the case for Pho Cafe, and they've filled in with pre-frozen products that line the freezers of Asian groceries. I would much preferred to have a small dim sum menu of 5-10 GREAT items than a list of 30-40 meh to ugh items.
Even in the street-side dim sum and pho stands that I've patronized in certain neighborhoods in cities abroad of Texas, I've seen customers take their time and linger, talking to friends and strangers, but nothing at Pho Cafe Saigon made me want to linger this time...at least not yet. I hope that Paul will step it up and prove me wrong because I relish the day when I can get my fix in town rather than driving or flying somewhere else.
My husband and I ordered three different dishes, the imperial rolls, and one of the many flavors of bubble tea. All of which were excellent and the service was extremely quick. The staff are very polite and knowledgeable about the menu. As new patrons to Vietnamese cuisine, we had several questions about dishes which they happily answered.
Pho Cafe Saigon is well worth the drive to China Spring. We are looking forward to returning again soon!
Today was my 2nd trip to Pho Cafe and I ordered the same thing as the first time, #30, Stir Fried Green Bean Vermicelli & Minced Crab Meat & Vegetables. It's wonderful. It's so good I'll probably get it again the next time. Actually, in order for me to try anything else they have, I'll need company so I can taste what they get. I'm addicted.
But, back to #30. Don't be fooled by "green beans", as they are what we call "snap beans", and they are minimal. However, the crab meat and a little pork take this dish on a flavor explosion. Really, the flavors infused in the vermicelli make it the star of this dish, and, I typically don't like pasta. But the vermicelli noodles are crisp, not slimy, and the crab, pork, and veggies add just the right amount of intensity. I didn't use any soy sauce because the dish is a little on the salty side, but that's probably why I love it. Be back soon....
I feel conflicted about my recent trip to Pho Cafe Saigon. Our waitress was admittedly "a bit of a mess." We tried the dim sum in addition to some regular menu items. The dim sum was hit and miss. Some of it was absolutely delicious, especially the wrapped sweet rice, stuffed tofu, and the crescent shaped dumplings (not sure which menu item they were because the waitress didn't know what was what). The other half of our dim sum order seemed like sad reheated shu mai, old duck, or there wasn't the right ratio of steamed bun to filling (some of which tasted like old pot roast). The bahn mi was excellent, really flavorful and fresh. The pho had a lot of potential, but didn't quite live up to our expectations.
I really would love a dim sum place to go to on the weekend, so I am hoping they succeed and work out some of the kinks. We'll be back to try it again soon.
In spite of it being a 30 minute drive from my house in Woodway, I ventured out to China Springs twice in one week to have some of the great food that they serve here. I've missed having good Vietnamese food, and this fits the bill quite nicely.
On the first trip I had a stir-fry beef Bahn Mi. It's basically a french roll sandwich, but it's one of the best sandwiches you'll have! The beef was well marinated and cooked nicely. It had a few veggies that went well with the beef, and a couple of slices of jalapeño to give it a nice kick. it also has some cucumber and mayonaise on it, which balance the flavor of the beef and the spice of sandwich perfectly. highly recommended!
On the second trip out there, I had the beef clay pot. it was also really good. It had a good mix of vegetables and mushrooms mixed in with the beef, all set on top of rice. the flavor was great and i emptied the clay pot that it was served in. :) the only drawback to this was that it didn't quite have that burn-your-mouth-off-from-broiling-in-an-oven thing going on, that i expect in a great clay pot dish. it was plenty hot... but i didn't have to scrape any charring rice off the side of the pot or blow on it for 10 minutes to get it to cool down to the point where i could eat it. that one little detail may have been enough to put this good dish over the top.
overall, if you're in the mood for some real vietnamese food made by the real-deal vietnamese "grandma and grandpa", you need to go here. it's well worth the drive.
I am sure this is good for others, but not for me. I found the Bun Xao a bit on the salty side and the meat tough to chew. It was fresh, but would have liked to see a bit more veggies in the bowl. As with most eateries, everyone has their own taste and preferences....and this wasn't mine.
After hearing a lot about this place, decided to give it a try for dinner. One thing to keep in mind is out in China Spring, so kind of drive from the south side of Waco.
Once we arrived, I was shocked how small this place is. I counted 5 tables plus 2 outside. I guess they plan to make more money on take out then dining in. We went early so had no problem getting a table but by the time we left, they were all taken.
As for the food, it was really good and different. We tried the fried rice with chicken and shrimp, along with their imperial rolls. Everything was full of flavor and we enjoyed it. The only negative was everything seemed to have a fish taste to, but not strong enough to keep you from enjoying it. The presentation was great and everything was served on fine china! I know, that sounds weird since it is a Vietnamese place.
Service was great! Very friendly and answered all of our questions.
Overall, it is worth a try but I think next time we will get it to go.
I had the pleasure of enjoying the #24. Grilled Pork & Eggs Rolls. The plate come out ready for a photo shoot it was so well presented. The taste was out of this World even though it was a healthy dish. Eat at Pho's.
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