Thai SonPosted: 10/13/2012
The blog’s very first post on the expansive world of Pho in Vancouver sprang from my incredible craving for the noodle soup one day after school. Since Samson had the day off, we ended up heading over to Pho Thai Son at the First Avenue Plaza (where the T&T is).
After choosing our own seat by the window, we debated on what to order: like I said above, I really really wanted noodles… but then Samson and I ended up picking the same one! Well, to mix things up a bit (and so I have a bit more to review), we ended up with the Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Salad Rolls) first. These rolls, wrapped in a rice wrapper, were filled with shredded pork, whole shrimp, vermicelli and carrots, and were actually quite filling– perfect for lunch. I had never had these at a restaurant before since my mom and I make them at home, but I was glad Samson decided on this. I especially liked the peanut/hoisin sauce dip it came with, as the rolls themselves are a little bland (but quite healthy).
They also brought us over complimentary veggies for soaking in the noodle soup in the form of bean sprouts (the waitress brought them over steamed, which was a plus), as well as the add-ons of basil leaves, jalapeno peppers and a few lime wedges. There isn’t too much to be said about the bean sprouts as they were pretty standard.
Our two large bowls of Pho Dac Biet came next. These were steaming hot, and smelled heavenly to my beef soup-desiring tummy. For those who don’t know, Pho Dac Biet, usually the house special (dac biet means different/special in Chinese… and I guess in Vietnamese too?), contains a variety of cuts of beef. This certain bowl came with a large amount of rare beef (which you swish around in the broth and cook yourself), well-done flank, tripe, beef balls and pieces of tendon, and was topped off with some onions, green onions and cilantro. The soup was aromatic and had some depth, so it wasn’t just plain salty. I liked that this bowl came with all those kinds of beef, since some places will only give you the beef slices, tendon and tripe but not beef balls. As well, the noodles had a nice chew to them, so overall this was pretty pleasant to eat.
We ended up at Thai Son again the next week, because I wanted a snack before we went to T&T to do some grocery shopping. We also ordered some Cha Gio, or deep-fried spring rolls, which were filled with shredded pork and veggies. These were fried up nicely and were quite crisp, but I definitely would have preferred if they used a rice wrapper instead– these came to the table looking a lot like the spring rolls you could get upstairs for dim sum, and just don’t have the same texture.
I got the same bowl of noodles again (pho dac biet really is my favourite, and I don’t like to deviate… as well, I couldn’t very well get a rice dish since dinner was a mere 2 hours away), but Samson ordered the Bun Bo Hue Thai Son Dac Biet, or the Thai Son special spicy beef and vermicelli in soup. Unless I read the menu wrong, the name is a little misleading, as this soup included both beef and pork– there were pieces of beef brisket and tendon, a pork hoc and a few slices of Vietnamese ham. All the meats were prepared well, and the soup exhibited some beef flavour along with the mild spice. This might just achieve comfort food status, but I’ll have to order one to have myself before deciding.
Overall, Thai Son offers up a standard Vietnamese restaurant experience. The food was pretty good (in particular, the Pho Dac Biet was great) and I’ve had their rice dishes before and remember those to be fine as well. Prices can be a little high when compared to some other restaurants along the Kingsway corridor, but aren’t completely out of range. Service was a little sparse, but I honestly don’t expect much when I go to Vietnamese restaurants anyways– I don’t remember any particular restaurant that has standout service. While this isn’t in the most convenient location, I wouldn’t mind making return visits in the future (hey, I’ve already been twice in two weeks).
230-2800 1st Avenue East