Food Fight: Pho Tau Bay vs. Pho 79 pho
Pho is one of those rare dishes that serves not only as comfort food but also -- sodium aside -- as a fairly healthy dining option. Plus, unlike comfort staples like mac and cheese or mashed potatoes, it's an entire meal: protein and veg and all! Plus, nothing like pho to soften the brittle edges of a cold, winter day. Ahh. Here's how two Eat Street phos compare:
According to its menu, Pho Tau Bay's "pho tau bay dac biet" (menu item #1) comes with "fresh sliced beef, flank, tendon, tripe and beef meatballs."
While I don't particularly dig the meatballs that come with pho anyway, (Truth be told, the tendon and tripe make me a little queasy as well.) my #1 didn't have any meatballs to speak of, nor did it come with cilantro as is customary with most phos. And no onions?!
That said, it was a perfectly acceptable pho: lots of fresh, crunchy bean sprouts, basil, and jalapeños alongside a pile of meat and various entrails. The broth was a little weak --more pale and translucent than I expect a beef broth to be, and lacking in flavor, but this can be overlooked by adding lots of lime juice and hot sauce. Price: $7.25.
Pho 79's "Special Pho 79 Bowl" comes with "rare lean beef, well done flank, fat brisket, soft tendon, tripe, and meatballs," and in this case, the dish actually included the promised meatballs (phew!) as well as the cilantro and onions (two kinds!) missing from Pho Tau Bay's serving.
Pho 79's soup had more generous portions of meat than Pho Tau Bay (You should have seen the flank!) and the brisket had less fat on it than you see in some phos (to me a plus, but others differ).
Probably the best, most surprising thing about this pho was the broth. It is a rich, caramel color, cloudy with meaty-ness, full of tang and flavor, with even a faint taste of ginger in there. Price: $7.59.
The Winner: While local chef fave Pho Tau Bay makes a stand-up pho, if it's really pho you're after, pay a smidge more for Pho 79's. The restaurant's "special" pho is indeed the more special of the two. The hearty broth could be slurped down on its own, and frankly, this is not something you can say about many pho broths. Pho 79's bigger portions and menu fidelity are also worth noting.
And for what it's worth, while you're probably not going to either Pho Tau Bay or Pho 79 for the atmosphere, if you are planning to go in for a sit-down, Pho 79's woodsy, rustic vibe has a slight edge over Pho Tau Bay's red vinyl booths and white-tiled floors.
Pho Tau Bay 2837 Nicollet Ave. Minneapolis 612.874.6030
Pho 79 2529 Nicollet Ave. Minneapolis 612.871.3226
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