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Pho Tau Bay in Metairie...Closed? Also, review of Vietnam Cuisine

d
dream75517 May 23, 2008 02:40 PM

So, as I stay in a hotel in Metairie until my apartment lease starts in New Orleans, I started to crave pho. My throat is hoarse, my head is pounding, and my stomach wants something warm. I looked up some pho places for Metairie, and saw that pho tau bay had a branch here..but I knew that a few have closed after Katrina. I tried to hunt it down, but no luck. I drove by Vietnam Cuisine at 3808 Veteran's Blvd. My standards for pho are not high...when I'm desperate, I'll order some from August Moon on Prytania.

I walk in and am handed a take out menu. From the start, I know that this is a bare bones operation. Lots of menu items are crossed off. All menu items are some sort of derivative from one or all the dishes. There are 4 appetizers, which are egg rolls and three kinds of spring rolls. Under the "Noodle" Entrees, all the dishes are sauteed [choice of protein] with cold noodles and fresh vegetables. There is only one kind of pho, which is with rare beef.

Okay, I think, the menu may be sparse, but maybe the food is really really good. I really wanted chicken pho, and the waitress suggests getting a clear soup with chicken. I also order the rare beef pho and sauteed chicken with cold noodles and fresh vegetables.

I take it out, and go home to eat. I taste the beef pho....the worst, hands down, no question, that I have ever put into my mouth. There was way way way too much cinnamon or cloves in the broth. I threw it away after one sip. The clear soup was good...but it was clear soup! The sauteed chicken with noodles and veggies was, what can I say, good, but something I could have made myself. I have to note, I don't cook, so if I could make it myself, it is pretty unimpressive.

With the exception of pho, the meal was okay. Overall I paid $25 dollars. Let me just say, this was not a $25 meal. I would have preferred to go to the supermarket to buy 10 cans of progresso chicken noodle soup.

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  1. mrsfury RE: dream75517 May 23, 2008 06:34 PM

    Whoa. Progresso chicken noodle is pretty bad. Thanks for the review, I was wondering about the place. We noticed it while across the street at Yoko.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mrsfury
      h
      Hungry Celeste RE: mrsfury May 25, 2008 12:34 PM

      I saw Vietname Cuisine a while back--actually thought about going in last week. Drove into the parking lot at 7:15 on a Friday night, and the restaurant was stone-cold-empty. Did a U-turn and dined elsewhere!

      Sadly, the Fat City PTB location did not return after Katrina. Your Metairie options for pho include Pho Bang, near Mississippi St at Veterans, in a mall with Garcia's and Vets Sushi Express. It's pretty good, but definitely in the vein of fast-food-pho, and it is part of a chain with locations worldwide. Also in the mix is Saigon, on Cleary near the Tandoori buffet (betw Vets & I-10, upriver side). Haven't tried it, but a drive-by showed evidence of actual patrons. Kim Ahn in Harahan has pho, too.

      1. re: Hungry Celeste
        f
        foodmuse RE: Hungry Celeste Jun 11, 2008 07:41 PM

        I made it to Saigon Pho (3000 block of Cleary) today, after Frosty's failed to satisfy my craving on Monday. It's tucked away in the corridor near Bugsy's, and don't let the big cheesburger picture menu by the door scare you off; their printed menu is 90% vietnamese, and the food is good. It may not be up to PTB's or Tahn Dihn's standard, but my soup surpassed the bowl I had over the weekend at the place attached to HK Market. Finally, the eastbank has real pho again. (Yes, i know Kim Ahn, but Harahan isn't any more convenient than the WB.)

        The broth was perfumed with plenty of anise, cassia, and clove, and it balanced (instead of overpowered) the rich meatiness of the stock. The tendon was cooked down to collagenous succulence; the tripe was nicely shredded; the fatty flank not too fatty. Even the (1) meatball was okay, and I generally disapprove of them. My only complaint was the lack of brisket, but it's only a minor one. The complementary herbage hosted the usual suspects, lime, sprouts, basil, cilantro, and jalapenos. I should add that it's also the largest "bowl" of pho I've seen in ages. It goes for $8.50 and it's problably 50% larger than the standard melamine pho bowl. Enormous. Only the "dac biet" was 8.50, so the orders without all the fixings might be smaller...

        My DC had the bun with pork and imperial eggroll. It was also gigantic, as well as quite delicious. A good mix of bun and greens, with cucumber and herbs. Coworker's to-go order of bun bo xao (lemongrass beef and a stir-fried onions) looked good, as well.

        DC and I each had spring rolls (2/order). I tried the "special" while she had the standard pork & shrimp. They were the weakest part of the meal, though not bad by any means. The regular ones were pretty restaurant-stardard, with only vermicelli and lettuce, and no cilantro or basil. In lieu of the rice noodles, the special rolls had a crispy fried wonton skin which was pleasantly crunchy. The meat was a pork forcemeat of some description, much like the spammy stuff that comes on a bahn mi. Rounding out the stuffing was a lovely fresh cucumber spear. They were good, but at $4 for two, they're not going to become a standard order.

        The pricing was on the high end for vietnamese, but only 10-15% above Frosty's or (the allegedly) Vietnam Cuisine a few blocks away, and the food was decidely superior. The dining room was spare but not the hollowly depressing of, say, Pho Bang, and the proprietress was exceedingly nice. I'll be back. Regularly.

        1. re: foodmuse
          h
          Hungry Celeste RE: foodmuse Jun 12, 2008 07:05 AM

          Thanks for the detailed report--with Tandoori cuisine just a few doors down, this block of Cleary is now a perfect storm of ethnic takeout.

          1. re: foodmuse
            paz5559 RE: foodmuse Jun 16, 2008 10:36 AM

            Does anyone have an address and phone number for this place?

      2. d
        dream75517 RE: dream75517 May 26, 2008 09:37 PM

        Thanks for your replies!
        I'm glad that I have some back up on Vietnam Cuisine. As a new chowhound poster in a city of great food, I'm always slightly scared of angering the chowhound regulars (which happen to include mrsfury, Hungry Celeste, in addition to JFood and Bill Hunt, and many many others!

        Hungry Celeste- If we are thinking about the same Saigon, I think I parked and did a walk by...it seemed quite shady, and I backtracked as quickly as I could. But now I'm thinking maybe I should have tried Saigon instead of Vietnam Cuisine!

        1 Reply
        1. re: dream75517
          r
          Robert Peyton RE: dream75517 Jun 16, 2008 07:30 PM

          You should rethink your fear of angering regular posters. There are a lot of good folks posting on this board, and you've named some of them. But nobody, and I mean nobody with an opinion worth two poops is going to get upset if you disagree with them.

          If you post something based on your experience, it's of value here. Not everyone is going to agree, and heck, you might even be wrong, but you should never be afraid of sharing your opinion.

          Just my .02.

          I mean, unless you disagree with me. Then you're a filthy heretic.

        2. j
          JazzyB RE: dream75517 May 27, 2008 06:30 AM

          Although not your typical inexpensive Vietnamese food, Minh Bui puts out some very good Vietnamese fusion at Cafe Minh (midcity on Canal, just off Carrollton). Nice ambiance and HUGE portions as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JazzyB
            a
            aok1903 RE: JazzyB May 27, 2008 04:27 PM

            Glad to see that others are hooked to pho which was developed in Hanoi with the help of the French.

            True recipe from Youtube.com http://youtube.com/watch?v=DrHV-eJ2Zx...

            1. re: aok1903
              edible complex RE: aok1903 May 27, 2008 05:45 PM

              go to Kim Anh on Jeff Hwy

          2. r
            roxanne207 RE: dream75517 Jun 18, 2008 05:58 AM

            Speaking of Vietnamese, is there anywhere besides no east and the westbank to get banh mi (sp?), the sandwiches? I tried Saigon but they only serve regular poboys.

            4 Replies
            1. re: roxanne207
              Troika RE: roxanne207 Jun 18, 2008 01:34 PM

              Have you tried frostys on cleary? I havent been there in a while, but I think their Westbank Location has banh mi. Hands down, i truly believe Kim's on the Westbank, tan dinh, and Nine Roses are the best on the Westbank. And in NO East, Dong Phuong and Ba Mien. But if its pho you're after, pho bang is the best. thats all they pretty much serve there.

              There used to be a decent place on Carrollton and Oak street called LA cafe deli, but it is now sadly closed. I think it was the name, the only reason i knew they had vietnamese there is because someone told me. They really should have changed the name......

              1. re: Troika
                v
                vttp926 RE: Troika Jun 18, 2008 07:59 PM

                there is also banh mi sao mai in no east right on chef menteur hwy. they have opened a 2nd location that is located at 91 holmes blvd in terrytown. they have really good banh mi. if i remember correctly, they use the bread from dong phuong as a base but their meats are so much better. man i am wishing i can have some banh mi from there right now.

                1. re: Troika
                  f
                  foodmuse RE: Troika Jun 18, 2008 09:13 PM

                  Troika is correct. The Metairie Frosty makes a decent bahn mi (it's the best thing on the menu, imo). I was also surprised Saigon doesn't make them, since they do Western sandwiches, but indeed they don't. IIRC, the Kenner Pho Bang has them as well. but i may be mistaken.

                  The Noodle House at Carrollton & Canal lists them on the menu, but their pho was so god-awful that i haven't been there since '07, and I live in MC...

                  Bahn mi are (is? How do you pluralize that? Bahn mis, bahns mi?) pretty easy to make at home, BTW. Whenever I give in to the pate at St. James', I always set a bit aside for a quick sandwich or two. PeteV's boudin noir made a particularly spectacular base for DIY vietnamese poboy...

                  1. re: foodmuse
                    h
                    Hungry Celeste RE: foodmuse Jun 19, 2008 07:03 AM

                    No BM at the Kenner/Metairie Pho Bang. For homemade bahn mi (no tacked-on Ss needed to indicate plurality), my favorite protein is ga nuong (grilled chicken). I use a recipe from Andrea Nguyen's Vietnamese Table cookbook--fresh lime juice, fish sauce, a bit of sugar, lots of black pepper, and a bit of oil, combined to make a marinade for boneless, skinless thighs. It is definitely more than the sum of the parts, and it imparts flavor in 30 minutes or less.

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