As I’ve noted before, we live in probably the only college town in the US—one with two colleges, in fact—that has no Thai or Vietnamese food on offer. There is serviceable Thai food available within 20-30 minutes drive (Taste of Thaiyai in Apple Valley, for example, or Thai Curry House in Burnsville or Joy’s Thai in Lakeville—where we recently got some pandemic takeout from); but in normal times we prefer to drive further to the Twin Cities’s real “Eat Street” for food that is substantially better. For Vietnamese food, and pho in particular, the gulf is less wide and we’re happy to eat at Pho Valley and Simplee Pho in Apple Valley when taken by a sudden urge for a good bowl of noodle soup. And so it was that after doing curbside pickup of Indian groceries at Mantra Bazaar on Saturday, I stopped at Simplee Pho to pick up a few things.
We haven’t been there in about a year and so I was surprised—and pleased—to see that the previously tiny restaurant has expanded and more than tripled its seating capacity. This happened, I was told, last June. Now, of course, that expansion must feel like a burden—hopefully, the landlord is being reasonable. That said I have a feeling—though I could be wrong—that restaurants like Simplee Pho that do a lot of takeout business even in non-pandemic times might be less impacted by the current situation. At any rate, there was a steady stream of people coming in to pick up orders while I waited outside for ours to get ready. I had called the order in over the phone and had to go in to pay and pick up the food. (Not all customers coming in for pick-up were wearing masks, I am sorry to say, and not all seemed conscious of the need to maintain distance from others.)
They seem to still be offering everything on their regular menu. However, prices on all items have been increased by $1 to account for increase in food costs—the paper menus have not been updated so if you use one of those or consult the pictures below, you should know that everything will cost $1 more. This hardly seems like something to complain about given how reasonable prices are and the general quality to price ratio on offer.
What did we get? Two orders of pho—one special pho, one with rare beef; one order of bun bo hue; one order of a rice plate with grilled chicken; one order of shaking beef (a special that is not on the paper or website menu). I had also ordered spring rolls but they failed to include it in the order. For the pho and the bun bo hue the meats were packed in the broth but the noodles were packed separately along with the toppings. Everything survived the 25 minute drive home well and we had a tasty dinner, and leftovers the next day.
The visual evidence follows.
By the way, we’ve never eaten anything from their Chinese menu. If you have, let me know if there’s anything you’d recommend.
I’ll probably be back at Mantra Bazaar again in a couple of weeks but on that occasion we might do takeout from either Pho Valley or Kumar’s Mess. Or, who knows, despite having said lukewarm things about them above, we might hit up Taste of Thaiyai after all. Before that though we might do a bbq pack pick-up from Tenant. Let’s see how it goes.