Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tau Bay Restaurant Edmonton - Awesome Pho.. when its open

Rating 8/10

One of the best places in Edmonton to grab a hot, comforting bowl of Pho (pronounced "fff-uh" not "foe"!)- beef noodle soup with shaved steak, slices of tender beef flank, bouncy meatballs, crunchy crisp bean spouts all floating in a savory anise flavored beef broth. The catch? You can get a bowl of this wonderful stuff... if they're open. This resturant is so popular, they axed all other menu items other than their Pho years ago... and they only open about 3-4 months cumulatively out of the entire year. Yup, they're so successful, they only open for a few days or a week or so at a time, and remain closed the rest of the year. There's even a website devoted to whether they're open at istaubayopen.com so foodies craving the Vietnamese version of soul food can check ahead without being faced with the disappointment of a closed restaurant and empty tummy.

Service is prompt and courteous with the waitstaff scurrying between old tables and wooden chairs.  Decor is minimal, a Vietnamese painting here and there - the focus is definetely the pho here.  So much so, that if you ask for take out, all the ingredients are separated and you'll get a lesson into how to put it together so the pho will taste right.




the Pho (only variations on one menu item!)
Okie dokie, as mentioned before, they axed all of their menu items save one - the Pho.  Essentially, the original Pho has a generous bundle of perfectly cooked thin flat rice vermicelli noodles and is topped with slices of fatty meat, slices of well done brisket, 2 pieces of beef tendon, some crunchy chopped up tendrils of beef tripe and crowned with some rare slices of steak, saved onions, chopped cilantro , and green onions all bobbing in a fragrant beef based broth. Granted they have variations on the all sacred bowl of pho, but if you look at it, the variations are merely a few of the ingredients removed from the original #1 Pho - If ingredients such as beef tripe, beef tendon and fatty flank make you queasy, rest assured, there's a version in there where it won't grace your bowl.  Don't spend too much time adding the "toppers" to your bowl or your noodles will get fat and mooshy as they will absorb the hot broth like a sponge.


the Toppers
For the uninitiated, pho is served with a plate of raw trimmed bean sprouts, chili peppers, lime wedges, fresh basil and occasionally, some Vietnamese herb that looks like a piece of long wide grass on the side.  Immerse the beansprouts immediately into the soup to cook them, tear up the chilis, basil and herbs to your liking and add a squirt of lime to add a fresh zing to your soup.  You don't necessarily have to eat the basil and various herbs, but they add a wonderful last minute hit of fragrance and subtle flavor to your soup.  Squirt your own combination of hoisin sauce, garlic-chili sauce and a dallop of their homemade in house satay sauce into a side side to dunk or directly into your bowl and you're ready to nomnomnom!

the Drinks
If you need a super caffination trip, or you just love coffee in general, have a glass of the iced Vietnamese coffee to enjoy at the end of your meal as a properly made cup should take about 30-45min to drip before you add it to your glass of ice with a small puddle of condensed milk in it.  For extra nomnom-ness, ask for double condensed milk. Mmmmm!  If coffee isn't your thing, give their blended fruit shakes a whirl - my personal fav is their jackfruit shake.  An exotic fruit with a flavor profile of a cross between a tart pineapple and guava, it has a mild unique scent that sometimes puts off people who have never tried it... its blended frozen with some ice and simple syrup - works beautifully to cool down your mouth when you dunked a bite of noodle into a bit too much of spiciness.



the VERDICT
A great bowl of noodle soup that somehow conveys comfort, savory satisfaction... the epitome of Vietnamese soul food.  Main quibble is they're not open all the time, or even consistently for that matter.  Check the website or call ahead to make sure they're open before you go and you won't be disappointed.

Tau Bay Restaurant
Address 10660 98 St NW Edmonton, AB
Phone (780) 421-0807
Hours varies, check istaubayopen.com or call
Tau Bay Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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