At the end of October I published a little tribute to University Avenue in St. Paul—in my opinion the Twin Cities’s true “Eat Street”. My post covered a three mile stretch from just west of Snelling to just east of Western, stopping at Bangkok Thai Deli. In the comments, Ed Bast recommended Tay Ho, a Vietnamese restaurant just a little further east from Bangkok Thai Deli. Embarrassed that I’d never eaten there, I resolved to fix that right away. Accordingly, we descended on them on the following weekend with two of our friends who often join us on our weekend eating jaunts. Here’s how it went down.
Tay Ho is a small but bright restaurant, with parking alongside. Well, I say it’s small but it’s larger than both Trieu Chau and Thai Cafe. There are two small dining rooms to either side of the entrance and a larger longer dining room right ahead. And it’s a popular restaurant! From the time we arrived to the time we left, there was a constant, bustling turnover of diners. The restaurant doesn’t have the largest waitstaff and so things seem to get a bit hectic as the few people cover all the tables. The woman who took care of us—and who seemed to possibly be an owner—was very friendly and very brusque at the same time, keeping up a friendly patter with the tables she was bringing food too but not letting any of it get in the way of making sure that everything kept moving.
What did we eat? We started with an order each of spring rolls (shrimp and pork in rice wrappers) and bi cuon (pork skin and strips of meat in rice wrappers). Both were very good. The kids shared a broken rice plate with three kinds of pork: a grilled pork chop, more strips of pork and skin, and a meat “pie”. They scarfed all but the pie down—I ate most of the pie and quite liked it. The adults split a bunch of bigger things: the special pho (very nice broth), the bun bo hue (as recommended by Ed B.), a bowl of bun (rice noodles) with grilled shrimp, and a bowl of bun with more of the pork and skin. All were very tasty. I’m not sure that I’d agree with Ed that their bun bo hue is the best in town—I like it a little spicier and earthier—but it was very good indeed. Two different orders of the bun bowls are superfluous, however, as beyond the featured protein there’s no difference between them.
For way too many pictures of the restaurant and the food launch the slideshow. Scroll down for price and thoughts on value.
All of this came to $68 or so with tax and tip. Or just above $13/head (counting our brats as one adult). Which is, obviously, rather good value. I’d come back any day for their pho or bun bo hue. Though on our next trip I’ll probably give their hu tieu and mi and banh mi a try first.
This outing also reminded me that we really need to get to Pho Ca Dao, and we need to go back as well to iPho. We’ll do that next year. I’m off to Hong Kong and then India and Los Angeles at the end of next week and won’t be back till early January. I’d said last week that this would be my last food report from the Twin Cities for the year but—not for the first or last time—I lied. I have two more reports lined up (one of a restaurant in the South Metro, one of a food hall up in the cities) and may have yet another, depending on how things go this weekend.