Convinced by coworkers that Pho Tau Bay Restaurant (10660 98 Street) would soon become my new favorite pho haunt, I met Dickson, a fellow pho enthusiast, for lunch there this afternoon.
Like most restaurants in Chinatown, both the storefront and interior are nothing to write home about. The decor is dated, furniture worn and floor in need of a makeover. But for the supposed authenticity and cheap prices, much can be overlooked. Well, it seems their prices went up recently – a medium bowl is now $6.20 (up from $5.60), while an extra large bowl is priced at $7. Of course, for the serving size, it is still very reasonable (and cheaper than Pagolac and Golden Bird), but it seems they will have to do more to differentiate themselves from the crowd at this point.
My coworkers weren’t kidding when they said that there was nothing but pho on the menu – twenty varieties, with combinations of beef flank, tendon, brisket and tripe all available. I was disappointed with a lack of rare or medium rare beef, so ended up ordering a medium bowl of pho with beef balls, while Dickson opted for the extra large with steak, well done brisket, flank, tendon and tripe. This was the only non-dim sum meal I’ve experienced where ordering on paper (checking off the quantity desired next to the dish name) was called for.
Our dishes took no more than five minutes to prepare (reminding me very much of Pho Hoa), which was either really efficient or, as we were joking, cause for suspicion. Dickson thought my serving was rather small when compared with others like Hoang Long and Pagolac, but for a lunch meal, I was satisfied with the size. The dish itself though was a bit disappointing – the broth was a tad salty, and overall, we both longed for bowls from any of the other eateries mentioned above.
While we may have been let down by Pho Tau Bay in part because of extremely high expectations, with so many other great pho spots in the area, I’m not sure we’ll be back to give it a second chance.
Pho Tau Bay
Beef Ball Pho