In the last year I’ve posted a number of reviews of Vietnamese restaurants in the Twin Cities and environs. There are two major thoroughfares in the area where the best of these can be found. One is University Avenue in St. Paul (home to Trieu Chau); the other is Nicollet “Eat Street” Avenue in Minneapolis. I’m yet to cover University Avenue in any detail but have already posted write-ups of two Vietnamese restaurants at the north end of Eat Street (Pho Hoa and Pho 79). Close to the middle of the street is the one that’s the most popular one of them all, Quang. This is not a review of Quang but of the restaurant that is at the very south end, the very end of Eat Street: Pho Tau Bay. It’s not exactly unknown but it’s also not talked about as much as it should be when it comes to Vietnamese food in the Twin Cities. Here’s a brief write-up.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Pho Tau Bay is at the very south end of Eat Street: if you try to go any further you’ll run out of street. It shares a parking lot with a laundromat and doesn’t look like the most promising location. When you go inside you’ll find a somewhat garishly decorated but bright and large space and odds are you’ll find it pretty full whenever you go, with a pretty good cross-section of the community. The tables are numbered: you are expected to order quickly and the food comes out pretty quickly as well. You eat and pay at the cashier at the front (you tell them your table number) and then you leave and come back and eat again.
The menu is composed mostly of Vietnamese-American all-stars: a lot of pho variations as well as a lot of other noodle soup and rice noodle and broken rice variations (all of which make the menu appear more capacious than it actually is). There are a number of more unusual dishes as well (mostly available on the weekends). Their pho and other broths tend to b a little lighter than at other places (I’d place Trieu Chau’s pho above theirs) but everything that we’ve tried here has been quite good. Please launch the slideshow below to see what most of that has been. Scroll down for brief thoughts on the rest of the experience.
Service is always friendly and the prices are on par with the competition. Though it’s hard for us to consistently get there on the weekends, I’d like to try more from that section of the menu. Finally, even though it’s large and never empty, it’s quite a bit less hectic than Quang (which I should also get around to writing up soon). If you haven’t been, I recommend you go.