Phở, Foe, Faugh, Fo, Fa…. Phở sure!
One of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants is located in the Whitter area of Minneapolis at the very end of Eat Street. Phở Tàu Bay is one of my lunchtime, dinnertime, or anytime stops for Vietnamese when traveling through The Cities.
Here is my 24A – Chạo tôm (grilled shrimp on sugarcane) served with bánh hỏi (vermicelli noodle pancakes with fried scallions), peanuts, carrots, and daikon. So delicious.
I was elated to see this on the menu because the bánh hỏi is usually very highly regarded, takes skill to create, and is labor intensive. I haven’t eaten this since I was in Vietnam in 2007. I remember my dad telling me that this bánh hỏi is very special and saved for special occasions. I would say my dad visiting after 32 years was a special occasion.
To eat, you roll everything up in the bánh hỏi, adding mint, shrimp, daikon, carrots, cucumber, and peanuts.
Dip it into some nuoc cham (Vietnamese fish based sauce). Delectable.
This restaurant is located directly north of the odd Kmart which sits in the middle of Nicollet. I don’t know what the exact story is as to why there are remnants of a road and bridge where the Kmart now stands. Whatever the story, it makes for plenty of parking when trying to eat here. You can wash your clothes, eat great Viet food, and wash your car, all in this little area. It is a bit odd, but it works.
Phở. I don’t even pretend to say the actual name of this soup, as I cannot correctly pronounce the tones to do so. My dad will say it for me and I will repeat. Even though he just said it, I still say it incorrectly. I think I will stick with what a lot of Americans say, fa or fah.
Phở is the umami-filled, long-simmered, multi-layered, Vietnamese bowl of wonderfulness. It has essences of ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and in this case, beef, to make this phở bò or beef soup.
The key to this soup is the long-simmered broth. Vietnamese cooks tend to be very secretive about their recipes and specific ingredients. All Phở is judged by the taste of the broth, not by the condiments you put inside. Most Viet eaters don’t traditionally use Hosin or Siracha in their soup. They enjoy the broth in a good Phở. However, they traditionally still add lime, bean sprouts, chilis, mint, basil, rau ram, sawtooth coriander, sliced onion, pepper, etc. First, taste the broth. Savor the flavors. Then add your condiments to please your palate.
Another favorite of Chad’s is the stir fry with crispy egg noodles. The portion is huge. Full of shrimp, mock crab, and crunchy veg.
I am a fiend for Vietnamese style chả giò (fried minced pork or Vietnamese Egg Rolls). My dad and uncle would make these and I would devour them. I now make my own and I could honestly eat these everyday. The chả giò at Phở Tàu Bay were top-notch the last time I stopped. Crispy, full of pork, and juicy. My mouth is watering.
Usually they are made with the wheat wrappers and full of cabbage. The Vietnamese like lots of meat in their chả giò. I usually wrap in Philippine Lumpia wrappers, but most traditional is in rice paper. I try to stay away from the grocery store wheat wrappers, but they will do in a pinch.
Wash it all down with a Cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese Iced Coffee) or a Bubble Tea.
This restaurant is no frills, but with a slight eclectic feel, like this random “Boy and Dog” picture hanging in the men’s bathroom. I cannot specifically remember, but this picture was oddly familiar to me. I believe it was popular wall decor in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Also, my “world’s largest collection” of vegetable-stuffed vinegar bottles in the south-facing windows. Don’t come in expecting them to fuss over you. It is pretty basic. It’s very Vietnamese. Come in, sit down, get a menu, order, get your food, and then go up to the cashier with your table number when you are ready to pay. They are good about refilling your water and someone is always passing by if you need something. Everything I have eaten here has been solid and fulfills my need for Viet food.
Phở Tàu Bay, 2837 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota