Banh beo & banh cuon, Tay Ho, Oakland - any reports?
- hhc May 7, 2007 12:36 PM
have been there twice this year and I think that it is worth a visit. The buon cuon (rice noodle with pork) is not nearly as good as the buon cuon at the late lamented Hung Ky on Jones in the SF Tenderloin. They did have a baked and fried muffin with green bean and with shrimp (#10 - Banh cong - Special Shrimp Tempura with Green Bean?) in it which is also available in some of the delis nearby (Cam Huong on Webster?). Also had yam fries, a shredded yam shoestring-style and then fried (#9- Banh Tom Chien Khoai - Special Shrimp Tempura with Yam?). Hadn't seen that before at a Vietnamese restaurant.
Each table has a large quart-size pitcher of homemade fish sauce that I used liberally to dip some of the fried appetizers. They also have a special that has several kinds buan and greens on a single plate if you want to get a taste of as many different dishes as you can.
Have not tried the soups but did see several tables with bun rieu, noodle soup with tomato.
The servers were very responsive to my questions about their food and when I couldn't decide between two dishes, he offered to make up a plate with 50/50 of each without extra charge.
Again, the banh cuon did not have the delicacy of Hung Ky (who does?) and the tempuras are a little on the greasy side, but I liked this place and saw things there that I had not seen elsewhere in downtown Oakland, or SF, for that matter. It's worth a couple of visits.
Since Banh Cuon Tay Ho is a chain that spans 2 states, my and other's reviews from March 2006 were posted to the General Board (the place for chains back then). I dug it up here it is:
I haven't been back since then, but it's fairly consistent/unchanging from what I hear and am guessing given it's a chain.
Overall I agree with zippo the wrapper texture is only ok to good, not great, but they get points for having lots of house fried shallots, and the fried fritter of julienned sweet potato with shrimp is really good. They also get points docked for the weak nuoc cham sauce.
I moved here from the Little Saigon. I went to the Banh Cuon Tay Ho on Bolsa all the times. Never had a chance to visit this one in Oakland, but heard so many good dishes serves in this restaurant. Finally, my friends and I went there for lunch. Parking is difficult here compare to South. Luckily they validated 1 hour from the China Town Parking Lot. It is a walking distance, but worth it. It considers large and roomy compare to the one on Bolsa, that only have five tables there. I know this place is well known for banh cuon, but wanted to try sometimes different. Most of the dishes serve large and small and only 50 cent different. I tried the Com Tam Suon Nuong add Ga Nuong. It turn out pretty good, not alot of places made their meat juicy and favorable. My friend had the Bun Rieu add OC. Oh boy, it tastes so good, can't find everywhere taste like this in Oakland. My other friend ordered the Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong. They separated the veggie on a small plate. I think it is a good idea, because some people don't eat veggie. We also got this Bot Chein(rice cake pan-fried with eggs and dipped it with the special sauce), it taste exactly what I remember from Vietnam. I couldn't find it down South which taste like this either. I will go back again soon to try some others, I am sure it will surprise me again.
First visit (although I did get an order of takeout banh beo one day when I was craving chwee kueh and figured they were the closest thing).
I had the #1 combo - bahn cuon (the first layer was of filled rolls, topped with a sheet sprinkled with ground shrimp, topped with a third layer consisting of loose piles of rice noodle sheets), slices of pork loaf, a few fried mung bean/shrimp cupcakes, and a few shrimp/sweet potato fritters, plus shredded cucumber and mung bean sprouts.
I liked the fritters the best. I appreciated the texture of the noodle sheets, but there's something about the way the meat is seasoned that I don't like... maybe it's the kind of fish sauce they use? I'm not afraid of funkiness... I love fermented crab paste and Epoisses and brescianella... but there's something to this funkiness that really doesn't do it for me.
I'd actually ordered the #5 but accidentally started eating someone else's #1 (we were with a large group of coworkers, not everyone had arrived, and I had no idea what anything was, so I just started eating. Luckily we're all friends.) #5, the Thanh Tri style bahn cuon, was just piles of plain noodle sheets, plus a few slices of pork loaf, and a few fritters.
I didn't love the banh beo I'd ordered before either, although that may be more a matter of personal preferences than a reflection on whether or not the banh beo were any good... I ordered them while I was craving chwee kueh, Singaporean steamed rice cakes with a savory topping of fried shallots and pickled mustard, and I thought banh beo might come close to approximating them... they didn't, and that's not their fault. I will also say that I think I'd like these dishes more if the shrimp weren't quite so finely ground - at a certain point, I think they lose their flavor, and all they seem to contribute is color and gritty texture. I like whole small dried shrimp best.
Another discussion that I found on the Chains board:
Tay Ho's website, with picture menu (unfortunately, the Oakland branch does not have a picture menu. If it did, I wouldn't have eaten someone else's lunch.):
Tay Ho Restaurant
344 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607
While in Oakland Chinatown this afternoon, had a craving for Bún riêu, a soup with vermicelli, tomato, crab paste and shrimp. Stopped by Tay Ho faintly remembering that they had it on their menu.
They were closed and several workmen were laboring on a remodeling. A sign on the front door said that they would reopen on August 30th. There was also an application for a liquor license for a new applicant, Denise Huynh.
I'll go back in a few weeks and see what's up.