I had to run errands down in Southpark Meadows last week; I still bemoan the existence of this behemoth strip mall (Road Rash, as my mother would say). For those of you who weren't here in the late 1990s, Southpark Meadows was a somewhat remote, lovely, open piece of land where outdoor concerts were held. I saw Dave Matthews and Lilith Fair, and now I see Wal-mart, Super Target, and a ton of restaurants. *Sigh*
Glad I looked at the map of SM before I left home so I could plan my errands. I find the signage and navigation down there difficult, especially when you're not real familiar with the area. Fortunately, Pho Thaison is on a corner with a big sign, so it's an easier landmark to find. A friend has told me about the location near Mopac and William Cannon; they actually have six locations in the Austin area!
At about 1 pm, there were a couple tables of patrons, but within 10 minutes, I was the only person in the restaurant. (I swear I didn't smell bad!) I ordered the B2 bun bowl to eat there, and a pork banh mi sandwich and C6, Singapore beef, to go.
The B2 is grilled pork with a crispy egg roll over the vermicelli rice noodles; a kicked-up fish sauce is served along side. For $8, there was a LOT of pork, and it was really good. Sliced thinly, probably marinated, and then grilled, it's tasty. A little on the tough side, but the sweetness from the sauce, and the grilled flavors really come through. Egg roll was fairly bland, but not greasy, and the carrots lightly pickled.
When I got home, I unwrapped my other dishes. The banh mi was very large; ok, I know you can't tell from this picture, but it was probably a good 8 - 9 inches long! It's filled with the same pork and pickled carrots, along with some cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro. It could have used a touch more mayo or sauce on it, but again, their pork is delicious. The bread was perfect for this kind of sandwich, because it was a bit crusty and flaky on the outer part, but not so it tears the roof of your mouth up. The banh mi do no appear on their regular menu; there was a sign holder at the table with a few banh mi offerings, and I think this was under $5 -- SO worth it!
Now for as good as these two pork dishes were, the Singapore beef fell short. Way short. I picked it because my friend has told me she really likes their Singapore dishes, but I couldn't remember which protein she usually gets it with. (Probably the pork!) I was a little hesitant to order it because it's on the "burning spicy" section of the menu. See all those red chile flakes in the picture? Got you nervous, huh? There was literally no flavor to this dish. And I ate it the following day, so you'd think the heat would have intensified a bit. Nope. It's basically beef with broccoli in a thin, (tasteless) brown sauce. I didn't eat much of it. And the beef was tough.
Pho Thaison was very clean (including the restroom), and the food came fast. Of the four people I saw who worked there, they were all Latino/Hispanic, not a Vietnamese or other Asian in sight. I asked how long that location had been open, and apparently it's been there four years. If you're in the Southpark Meadows area, it's definitely worth checking out, just stick to the pork dishes.