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The Great Pho Quest Continues: Pho Thaison in Allandale

This entry is part of a series, Austin Scene»

Noodle Bowl

It’s not often anymore that my wife and I are both out-and-about at lunchtime. Not like in the olden days. (Cue nostalgic music. Okay, that’s enough.) It happened yesterday, though, and we took full advantage of it. Our mutual timing was off, so I got in a few minutes of unanticipated Christmas shopping and then PJ arrived. After our individual appointments the only item left to settle was where to go for lunch.

I stuck my head into the nearest shop door and asked if they had a recommendation. The shopkeeper simply pointed south. I backed up and looked: Pho Thaison, right next door. Ah! And we didn’t even have to drive anywhere. Splendid! (Next time I’ll look around more, I promise.)

We were a bit late for lunch, and the joint was almost completely full. This outlet of Pho Thaison has been here a while now though we’ve never tried it, we’re seldom over in these parts for lunch. No time like the present to correct that little oversight. The space is quite small, as it was a tiny spiritual bookstore, once upon a time. They’ve done a fair job with the decorations, and it’s more like cozy than cramped. The servers were hopping with lunch meal delivery in full swing.

Once we got our chance to order I selected pho tai chin while Paula Jo went for a vermicelli bowl. No surprise there! She also ordered a shrimp spring roll, while I ordered a couple of fried egg rolls. Service was sedate at best, but we weren’t in a rush and so we dallied over our appetizers and chatted.

We’ve talked pho here on the Underground a lot recently, and rather than rehash some of that stuff, I’ll present the ups and downs, the stuff we noted that was different enough to comment on…

The menu’s quite extensive, and it really doesn’t do this place justice to call it just a pho restaurant. It’s clearly providing plenty of Vietnamese dishes, with a lot more fish specialties than usual. I’m not a big fan of fish myself, but if you want pho and you have friends who want Asian style fish, that may recommend Pho Thaison to you all by itself. There’s a nice selection of vegetarian/vegan meals, some with Thai and Singaporean essence. Plenty of salads too, if you’re watching your girlish figure (like me).

The spring roll was large, nicely stuffed with goodies and very tasty. The egg rolls were hot and tasty too, but a bit on the small side. I think they were hand-rolled, but I couldn’t confirm that. The dipping sauce wasn’t anything special, though, so I gladly used my favorite “Vietnamese ketchup,” Sriracha. One note: There wasn’t any garlic chili sauce (or sambal oelek) on the table, an odd “exclusion.” I can’t remember a pho house that didn’t have that stuff out. They had some for asking, though. I think it’s just that the tables are quite small and get crowded quickly. So if you’re a fan of that red (and red-hot) paste, ask.

The pho add-ons were the largest collection of herbs, sprouts and such that I’ve seen in a good while. Plenty of fresh jalapeño slices too. My pho was nicely supplied with cilantro (a favorite) and sliced green onions, as well as plenty of meat. The broth was clear and fairly light, with less star anise than in many bowls of beef pho I’ve enjoyed. Lots of flavor.

The bowls and such were a bit more colorful than we’ve seen in other pho places. A very nice touch, adding extra visual appeal.

The only drawback we noticed was the carpet. It’s sadly in need of replacing, and is noticeable enough to detract from their other attempts to keep a positive ambience. (I mean, to the extent that a simple pho place needs atmosphere.) Once I was face-down in my fragrant bowl of soup I clean forgot about the floor covering.

It’s worth noting that business is good for Pho Thaison. In today’s economic climate, that’s a good sign. I’ve said before, the good eateries do all right when times are tough. As one of the top-rated Vietnamese diners in Austin, they’re more than good enough! Give’em a try if you’re in the area, or check out one of their several other outlets around town; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed…

Pho Thaison on Urbanspoon

Pho Thaison (Allendale/North Austin location), 2438 W Anderson Ln., Austin, TX 78757. Phone 512.420.0001. Plenty of pho, Vietnamese and Thai specialties (including some sushi) served lunch and dinner, seven days a week, in a comfy little place. Vegetarian and vegan friendly. Gluten-free friendly. Takeout available.

Light Off the (Vietnamese Soup) Afterburners!

Entries in this series:
  1. Cool River Café and Southwestern Poblano Soup
  2. Restaurant Review: Gumbo's Louisiana Style Café
  3. Restaurant Review: Chola Indian Restaurant
  4. Restaurant Review: Fujian Grand China Buffet, Austin
  5. Restaurant Review: Casa Garcia's Tex-Mex Restaurant
  6. Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant
  7. Restaurant Review: Truluck's Seafood, Steak and Crab House
  8. Restaurant Review Update: Fujian Grand China Buffet Restaurant
  9. Restaurant Review: Pho Viet Restaurant
  10. Sunday Brunch Anniversary Celebration: Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar and Grill
  11. Late-Lunch Steaks at the Blue Oak Grill
  12. Mama Roux: So Good There's A Song About It, Sort Of...
  13. Phil's Ice House, an Austin-Weird Place for Great Burgers
  14. Easter Sunday Dinner: A Poor Experience at a Usually Reliable Locale
  15. A Sedate Spring Lunch at Zed’s
  16. Looking for a Taste of Germany? Well, We Tried…
  17. Fresh and Tasty Tex-Mex, Prepared by a Grandma
  18. The HomeField (Grill) Advantage
  19. Dinner for One: Sometimes the Good Stuff is Right Under Your Nose
  20. Smoky Heaven in Round Rock: Johnny T’s BBQ
  21. Tex-Mex, Better’n Sex (Says So on the Menu)
  22. The Quest Begins Anew (Just Pho Me): Mai Lien Bistro
  23. A Little Bit of the French Quarter, Here in Central Texas
  24. Quick Bites: El Caribe Tex-Mex
  25. It’s Good, It’s Italian, and You Don’t Have to Go to Europe to Get It
  26. Casa G’s for Lunch (Hint: It’s Awesome)
  27. Chola Indian Restaurant: A Good Indian Eatery Gets Better
  28. Tacos are Brain Food, and Brainiacs Eat at El Taquito…
  29. Get Your Indian Food Fix the Easy Way: Tärkă Indian Kitchen
  30. Late Lunch at Mandola’s Italian Market; Worth the Wait…
  31. I Didn’t Know Sichuan, China Included Round Rock
  32. Sunday Brunch at Pecan Street Station; Good Choice…
  33. Does Kung Fu Buffet Lives Up to Its Name? My Sample Says…
  34. The Underground Visits Ethiopia for Dinner (and Has a Wonderful Time)
  35. Pho Lee Vietnamese, It’s Total-Lee Pho (and Very Good)
  36. A Taste of Jalisco in North Austin
  37. The Great Pho Quest Continues: Pho Thaison in Allandale
  38. From New Pho to Old: Lunch at a (Nearly) Forgotten Friend, Tan My
  39. Z’Tejas, a Wonderful Place for Brunch and Clan Revelry
  40. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Round Rock: Great Meat; As For the Rest…
  41. LongHorn Steakhouse Round Rock: A New Family Favorite
  42. Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock: More Than Finger-Licking Good
  43. Drinks and Snacks on the Deck at McCormick & Schmick’s
  44. Going Back Pho More at a Local Favorite
  45. Swagat Indian: A Disappointment With a Few Bright Spots
  46. Branch BBQ in Wells Branch: A Local Secret?
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  48. VooDoo BBQ & Grill: Their HooDoo’s Pretty Good, Actually
  49. My Fit Foods: Tasty, Healthy Food, Ready in a Flash
  50. Chang Thai, Our Family’s New Favorite
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  52. Playing With Your Food (and Your Mom Would Approve): Shabu Hot Pot & Noodle Bar
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