I’ve wanted to go to To Chau for a long time, but arranging dinner with a group wasn’t panning out. So I finally decided I needed pho, and headed off to quench the craving. If you’ve never had pho or are scared of it, I’ll give this review from that perspective. In fact, I think I’ll use my friends at Wikipedia for more background, if you want it. I was intimidated the first time I had it. But it’s a fun meal because they bring they base, and you season to your taste.
“Mmmmmm. Noodle soup.” -Joey Tribiani, Friends
To Chau is listed as an oriental restaurant, but I’ve also seen it described as “actually Vietnamese.” I honestly don’t know what the difference is, and won’t pretend to be more cultured than I am. That disclaimer said, onto the review!
I ordered spring rolls (also called summer rolls on the menu). These aren’t the fried egg roll-like things. They’re fresh, and I didn’t write down what’s in them but I know it includes sliced pork, lettuce, noodles, basil and carrots. Then wrapped in a rice wrapper, and served with spring roll sauce. And let me tell you, these really did make me think of summer. I have never had fresh spring rolls so I can’t compare them to anything. But the lettuce and carrots gave a nice crunch, while the pork and noodles gave substance. The dipping sauce was sweet to balance with the savory of the roll. Overall, delicious. They won’t hit the spot if you’d rather have fried egg rolls or crab rangoon, but definitely a less greasy alternative for an appetizer.
Before I could even finish my spring rolls, my pho (pronounced “fa”) came out. I LOVE pho. I’m definitely a soup girl, and the guys I work with don’t believe soup is a meal, so I can’t ever convince them to have pho for lunch unless it’s my birthday. So although I wish I had more experience to give a good comparison, all I can say is the soup was delicious. I got flank steak in mine. For those who haven’t had pho, you can get lots of different meats. I always go with beef (I know I’m boring). But some places have chicken as well, some places have different types of beef (flank steak, sirloin, brisket, etc.) and then there are things like tripe and tendon I won’t even pretend to be interested in. And real connoisseurs will get a combination of all of these meats. Get it!
When my pho came, I immediately added all the jalapenos and several drops of Sriracha. I was also given sprouts, basil and lime to add to the soup. As well as soy sauce, salt and pepper and other condiments left on the table. I thought the soup had a wonderful flavor and only wanted to give it a little more spice.
There are two bowl sizes for pho (medium and large), and like most pho places, the servings are really large and reasonably priced. Service is fast, and my waitress kept my water filled, which was nice considering my spicy soup! The restaurant itself isn’t anything exciting to look at but it’s clean and there is lots of room.
All-in-all it was absolutely delicious. I left completely satisfied, and can’t wait to go back! Who wants to come?
Spring rolls and spring roll sauce.
Inside of the spring roll. From top to bottom: Noodles (with basil to the right), lettuce and carrots, pork. The wrapper is really thin.
Condiments for pho: sprouts, basil, limes and jalapenos.
Pho deliciousness! I’m not sure if I know exactly what’s in it. But it’s a beef broth base with pho noodles (YUM!), white onions, seasonings and green onions. Then you can add anything from the fresh condiments plate (shown above) or anything on the table (salt, pepper, soy sauces, Srirachi, etc.). They also have a spice bowl, which I didn’t ask for because I was happy with how mine tasted by just adding jalapenos and Srirachi. But that’s also available upon request.