Pho Thaison – North Shoal Creek, Austin

pho
What I Ordered
  1. Spring Roll/Egg Roll
    Here's a hint, even if you don't use Yelp, download it, check in and always recieve a free egg roll or spring roll. Yes, every time you check in. It'll save you $2 for a free snack!

  2. Grilled Pork
    This is my next favorite besides the Pho. The chared pork has a satisfying taste and texture, and it is much healthier than a fried pork chop. I sub for rice instead of the vermicili noodles. It also comes with an egg roll, and a refreshing salad, try the pickled carrots!

  3. #16 Chef's Beef Pho Special
    "Beef broth noodle soup with all beef cuts. Angus eye of round, brisket, fatty brisket, tendon, tripe and meatballs."

  4. Green Curry
    It isn't their specialty but if you're craving some curry and rice, they can make a decent one. Hopefully you're not looking for nuances of Indian spices or searching for a certain heat and texture. This is a poor mans curry, no shame to that, broke college kids, this is an upgrade from that packet ramen.

  5. Real Tea
    Another awesome thing about this place is that they serve premium tea! The actual flower and leaves are placed in the french press which you should let steep for a few minutes before serving. 

  6. Fresh Lemonade
    When it's hot outside nothing is more refreshing than lemonade. The Vietnamese do it right with fresh lemon juice, lime, poured over sugar at the bottom of the glass. Unlike other places I've tried, Pho Thaison gives you a nice big tumblr glass!

 

pho #16
Some people just don’t get it, they’ll force themselves to slurp soup only when they’re sick and only as their last option, but wouldn’t think of ordering it as their main course. Jay Leno is attributed to saying, “Soup is just a way of screwing you out of a meal.” For a long time I agreed with him, avoiding soups and salads because I thought they were a waste of space in my stomach. It wasn’t until I read Dan Barber’s book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, that I realized I was eating the American versions of international soups. I’m sure you’re familiar with the kind, the watery tomato soup, an oily bisque, a sad rendition of a chowder (historically traced back to Newfoundland). Barber said something that made me really think, “Restaurants, after all, are named for a restorative, a large bowl of soup.”

shrimp spring roll

Restaurants were named after soup?! Why, I wondered, and then I started connecting the dots. We turn to soup when we’re sick. There’s books called Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul. Obviously, historically at least, soup has some sort of healing power. And then I turned to examine myself, Pho! Duh! I never really thought of Pho (pronounced fuh) as soup because it was a main course not a side.

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Growing up in Southern California, going out for Pho is part of ordinary life. You go out with your friends for a quick cheap meal before or after the movies. The family will take a break from cooking and enjoy a filling meal that doesn’t hurt the wallet. It was good ole’ fashion comfort food. Unfortunately when I moved to NYC I couldn’t find really good Pho, instead the locals went out for Ramen, but that’s a story for a different time. When I relocated to Austin, TX I struggled finding a good spot but then finally settled on this one on Anderson Lane, Pho Thaison.

porkchop

Now to the nitty-gritty. Price wise this place is fair. For a huge bowl of soup complete with noodles, bean sprouts, red and green onion, basil, cilantro, jalepeno and lime, as well as your choice of protein, it would be hard to find something worth more bang for its buck. Which leads me to the flavor, the broth itself is light and not oily, when infused with the basil and cilantro you get a cut of freshness. With the red onion and bean sprouts you’ll get a satisfying crunch.

green curry

Pho Thaison is not a fancy place, so don’t expect people to be all dressed up, yet it isn’t considered a hole in the wall either. The place is clean, basic, nothing more than that. Service can be curt, but relax, they’re busy and want to make sure everyone gets their food. Even if it doesn’t look like there are a lot of customers, try to consider the to-go orders and deliveries they might be preparing. Don’t expect them to check up on you to see if everything is tasting fine, if there is something wrong you’ll have to wave them down. Some people probably expect better service, but you’ve got to take it for what it is more of a roadside place to quickly eat and move along.

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So now I urge you to take part in ordering soup as a main course. It is altogether soul comforting without inducing a food coma. Light, refreshing, yet still substantial enough to make you feel full, without hurting your wallet. Restore yourself with a bowl of Pho.