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Pho in Towson!! (maybe?)

Had lunch at Sweet Lela's in Towson (really, really good, by the way), and while walking back through the circle down York Rd to our car, saw that the place formerly Jasmine Bistro and Fuji before that (big green signs, east side of York Rd) now has a giant green sign for "Pho Dat Thanh". We walked up - the interior of the restaurant looks finished (could be the same as Jasmine's; I never went so don't know if the burgundy and black booths is how it normally looks?), but there were no menus or signs posted on the windows other than business hours. Normally open Tues through Sun, but on this Sunday afternoon when the posted hours said it should be open it wasn't (maybe because of the holiday weekend?). There was a neon sign that said "Vietnamese Pho & Grill" and when I googled the phone number shown under it, it was the same number as Jasmine (and no answer when I dial it).

Anyone know if it's open yet, and if not, when it's scheduled to open? I can't tell you how excited I am to have a (potentially) real pho house in the Towson area -- though as particular as I am about good pho, I'll have to stop in and check out the quality of the broth and whether they have tendon, tripe, and all the good stuff available!

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  1. It's a branch of the Columbia one they say will open in July. They know what they're doing.

    1. That's good news. Pho Dat Than has a spot on Snowden River Parkway in Columbia next to Nichi Bei Kai and it's really quite good. Very good news indeed!

      1. Best news I've heard in a while!

        2 Replies
          1. re: LuLuBlaubugunder

            I LOVE the Columbia location – drive down to it from Baltimore city once or twice a month.

        1. We live in Pikesville, work in Towson and schlep to Columbia. This is GREAT NEWS.

          1. Their Columbia spot is AWESOME. Giant, great food, and affordable washed down with some Viet coffee...hmmmmmmmmmm.
            Towson would save a long drive down south and $4 in the tunnels. It would definitely be worth hitting up.

            1 Reply
            1. re: thecheeseisblue

              Called Columbia to learn more about the location and the only reply was "Towson, I don't know Towson, click."

            2. Hm... their location in Columbia is less than a mile from the office I'm working at this month. I'll have to see if it's any good, and that will dictate how excited I am about a branch opening up in Towson. :)

              1. Drove by there in the pouring rain yesterday at 1:30pm....a new green neon pho bowl was lit up in the window...but that's it!

                3 Replies
                1. re: crosby_p

                  Pho dat Thanh in Columbia was much better before it was bought by Koreans, same goes for An Loi although An Loi is a little better.

                  1. re: hon

                    Ok, so I'm not that enthused. I've had pho twice now at Pho Dat Thanh in Columbia, and while ok, the broth doesn't have the depth or balance of flavor that somewhere like Pho Saigon or Pho Nam (both in Catonsville) have. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but it's somehow very richly MEATY, but without the balance of other flavors that make a really nice pho. Large bowls, cheap, lots of meat, not so much tendon. It looked like they were trying to do much more as a Vietnamese restaurant rather than a pho place, and I can't speak to their other dishes, but the pho wasn't especially good.

                    I'll probably still try the place in Towson when it opens though... who knows what can change? :)

                    1. re: daveinmd

                      I stopped by today while out in Towson and they're opening Monday!

                2. I had lunch there today! Lovely inside, warm maroon booths with celedon green walls and low lighting. I asked to sit by the window so that I could read and they were very accomodating. Tomorrow (wedesday) is their grand opening so they are only serving appetizers and soup, and limited alcohol.

                  I ordered a Chinese beer and a regular size (vs. large) bowl of tai...pho with slice of eye round steak. They also have Special Pho with steak, well done flank, fat brisket, soft tendon and bible tripe, but didn't see any rare beef. The server explained (she was Asian but had no accent so there wasn't a language barrier) that they cook the beef by pouring the broth over...so this I knew.
                  It came out immediately and the broth was delicious and clear! There were tiny bits of scallion, a LOT of noodles and a few pieces of rather thickly cut beef...so I'm guessing it wasn't cooked in the broth...but the whole thing was delicious. Not as much onion (as a matter of fact, none) as I'm used to, but it came with Thai basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, lime and jalapeno. The only condiment on the table was sriricha, but there were clean, empty squeeze bottles there ready for something. The price was 5.95 for the regular bowl and $6.75 for the large. You can get extra noodles for a buck and a quarter, and white onion in vinegar for $1.5 as well as extra toppings for 2 bucks. There are appetizers ranging from summer rolls for 3.75 to grilled shimp or chicken with lemongrass in the 8 dollar range. Lunch specials will be 6:75 and there are chicken, pork, beef, vegetarian and shrimp specials on the menu as well. Rice crepes, steamed rice dishes and vermicelli dishes are on there as well as lo mein, chow foon and chow mein. There is quite a list of smoothies, including avocado and durian as well as custard apple and jack frut, coconut and mango, with or without tapioca, So all in all it is quite varied, and also has a menu of exotic drinks such as mai tai, and a selection of beer and wines. There was one couple in for the second time (they've only been open yesterday and today!) and yet another group that was requesting take out.
                  BluePig I'm curious to see what you think of the broth...I still haven't had pho at Mekong Delta, but ran to review this for you as you live nearby...will be interested in your take...
                  The best thing about the whole experience...drum roll please....I WAS CARDED!!!

                  6 Replies
                    1. re: hon

                      after she looked at it though, she patted my arm and smiled in sympathy. I certainly will be back...!

                    2. re: crosby_p

                      Hey crosby_p, thanks for the heads-up that they'd opened. Upon reading your post I went to try it for dinner tonight. Urm, mixed reviews.

                      First off, it took about 15 minutes for the pho to arrive - not that long, but quite a bit longer than the 4 minutes it took my pho at Pho Saigon to arrive -- two weekends ago, on a Sunday, as opposed to 9pm on a Tuesday night when we were the only ones in the restaurant. I'll chalk that up to maybe they had to reheat the broth.

                      Then, they mixed up my order -- giving me a #4 (no tendon and tripe) instead of the Special Pho I'd ordered. My BF, who also ordered a Special Pho with extra meatballs, got his order just right. They also applied his "no onion" request to my order, so I was disappointed to find no onion or scallion. (Although, re-reading crosby_p's review of her unintentional no onion, that just might be how they do it!).

                      The broth -- like daveinmd's assessment, it was missing something - I think a lot of the standard spices (I wouldn't have minded the more complex clove-y, cinnamon-y flavors of Mekong Delta). It was not, however, bland -- rather, more on the salty side and pretty dark brown in color. The saltiness could have been a result of the broth simmering all day and reducing down a bit... who knows. Portion size was ok - the regular bowl is a standard size, but there weren't a ton of noodles in there. I found it a bit light on the meat, but it might be because I spent most of the time while I was eating lamenting the lack of tendon and tripe (my favorite!). I did appreciate that the rare eye-of-round steak actually was served on top and the parts not fully dunked in the broth were still rare. Our waitress was "in the back" during the whole time we were eating so I couldn't really flag her down to indicate that I was missing part of my pho - and she didn't really come out to check on us.

                      So - for $5.95 and a short 5 minute drive, it was ok. Not great. My favorites in town remain Pho Saigon and Pho Nam but they are a solid 25 minutes away from me. But in a pinch, I might just go back to see if my experience tonight improves after some of the opening jitters get worked out. I was certainly intrigued by the extensive rest of the menu, so I'll probably also go back to try some of the other entrees. I'm definitely going back to try the bubble tea ($3.95).

                      ps - the clean, empty squeeze bottles were filled with hoisin by the time I was there!

                      1. re: bluepig1

                        Funny, almost a complete 180 from my meal...my waitress took my order, went to the kitchen and brought it back to me...also lots of noodles in mine, but evidently they don't add onion, which I really like. My meat was completely dunked and not rare...was it me or did you think the slices were pretty thick? I will be going back to try the summer rolls and maybe get more adventurous with some of the other dishes....

                        1. re: crosby_p

                          a few friends dined there for lunch and thought the flavor of the pho was excellent, but skimpy on the meat, nevertheless, i still will check this place out.

                          1. re: crosby_p

                            Went Wednesday for lunch...had good Chinese beer, and 2 orders of summer rolls...all yummy...12 bucks...and as an extra bonus...GOT CARDED....AGAIN!

                      2. Good chance I'll be running errands in Suburbia this evening, and may stop by this place while making my journey around 695. Does anyone know how late they're open?

                        And, I may have missed it, but what is this pho place called? I assume Pho #something or other?


                        6 Replies
                        1. re: baltoellen

                          They're open till 10pm on weeknights; assume at least as late on weekends. It's called Pho Dat Thanh (first post!).

                          1. re: bluepig1

                            Thanks, bluepig1! I found it, and ate there tonight.

                            I pretty much agree with you that PDT will do in a pinch, is a fine addition to the dining scene in Towson, but it certainly wasn't my favorite place ever, and left me full but strangely unsatisfied.

                            First of all, I thought the menu was pretty weird for a Vietnamese place. I mean, who ever heard of lo mein or chow fun at a Vietnamese restaurant? And, the neighboring table got some dish that looked good, but it was garnished with maraschino cherries, which just seemed a bit off, too. And, and this is a complete and utter Baltoellen quirk: but the front of the menu explains what pho is. C'mon, PDT, assume your diners know something about what they're about to eat!

                            We ordered the summer rolls, the VN pancake, and pho tai. We waited, like bluepig1, about 15 minutes, and our server told us that they were making our summer rolls. Then, two minutes later, the pancake dish came out, then my pho, and finally the summer rolls. It didn't make a lot of sense, but it wasn't a big deal.

                            The summer rolls were pretty bad, and devoid of any fresh herbs that give them their bite. The peanut sauce tasted like peanut butter mixed with coffee, something else yet off.

                            The pancake was good: shrimp and veggies tucked in a light and crispy rice crepe. This dish is usually one of those wrap your own deals, but it came with about three little pieces of iceberg lettuce, and not big, broad leafy green stuff. The nuoc mam was also odd. It had small peppers in it, and I could swear that it was sweetened with a few pink packets of Sweet & Low.

                            Regarding the pho, I liked the broth, it reminded me a tad of the clearer stuff that one gets in the north of the country, however, the rest of the noodle soup didn't do it for me. First, they didn't give me what I ordered, but, again, not a huge deal. The noodles were mushy and sticky, and didn't have the slight give that pho noodles usually have. Basil and some tired cilantro were provided. The pho definitely needed onions, for which I was nickeled and dimed an extra $1.50.

                            The servers were nice, and a bit overwhelmed--the place was about half full, and then a group of ten walked in--and there was a definite funny you don't look Vietnamese thing I had when looking at the staff. And, maybe this doesn't matter and maybe this does, but the owners are Chinese, the wait staff, too. Of course, I didn't bother to ask about the chef. And, I think that goes a bit of the way to explaining the anomalies on the menu.

                            1. re: baltoellen

                              I though the owners were Korean?

                              1. re: hon

                                The two serves I spoke with were both Chinese, and one of them definitely said the owner was Chinese as well. Maybe it was sold, from Korean to Chinese owners? (And, that would explain having lo mein on the menu instead of something like bi bim bop!)

                                1. re: baltoellen

                                  from Vietnamese to Korean to Chinese - could Thai owners be on the horizon?

                              2. re: baltoellen

                                Ellen...my summer rolls had lots of cilantro...very tasty!

                          2. Any non Pho reccomendations? I was there last week and the staff (very nicely) talked me out of getting Pho since I was carrying out.

                            I ended up with spring rolls, a chicken and shrimp bun dish and a vegetarian (tofu) hot pot. These were nice and interesting enough to make me want to return and experiment further. What else would work for carry out?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: placidothecat

                              I have gotten carry-out pho from their Columbia location several times, not sure why they talked you out of it. Weird.

                              1. re: hon

                                Well, I suppose I could insist! :) Or I could go and sit down to eat, of course.

                                I told the person I had never had pho and I think they were getting at having my first experience be the best it could be -- fresh out of the kitchen, hot, condiments nicely arranged, etc. I can understand that. I took it as they cared about their customers and wanted to present a high quality experience. It was no problem at all..

                                I was also once talked out of getting a dosa, carry out at a Southern Indian restaurant for the same reasons -- again I took it as a sign of customer care and quality conciousness.

                                1. re: placidothecat

                                  Do they do a true vegetarian Pho? Pho1 and An Loi both do and they are both acceptable if not great. Does PDT do this?