2905 travis nr. tuam
thien an is my midtown lunch destination for pho. and apparently everyone else's. the place was PACKED when i walked in around 1 pm on random week day. the room was filled with half asians and half caucasians. we had to stand around waiting for a table to be cleaned off.
everyone orders the banh xeo here for some reason. it's a crepe made out of rice flower, coconut milk, and tumeric for color that is usually filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and onions. it's wrapped in lettuce leaves and herbs like cilantro and mint and then dipped in fish sauce. yes, thien an's is HUGE - surface area wise - but it's so flat. it's all crepe and no filling which i think it pretty lame. i noticed that 1/3 of the tables had one on their table. big half moon yellow crepes kept flying out of the kitchen. why are they all ordering it? am i missing something?
i love the pho here. this was my pho tai. pho actually refers to the thin rice noodles at the bottom of the bowl. pho is pronounced like you are asking a question 'fuh?' (not like you're saying fo realz). tai refers to the thin slices of rare beef (usually eye of round) that are placed into piping hot bowls of pho broth. the hot soup cooks the beef.
a plate of bean sprouts, lime, sliced jalapeno, and herbs such as cilantro, basil, and culantro accompanies each bowl. thien an garnishes each bowl with cilantro before it leaves the kitchen so none is on the plate, but you can request more by asking (or more efficiently, just point to what's already in your bowl). there are only 1 or 2 employees at most that speak fluent english.
good pho is all in the broth. pho broth is made by boiling down beef bones, oxtails, and spices such as vietnamese cinnamon, star of anise, ginger, and cloves. thien an's is especially flavorful b/c i think they use a little extra cinnamon in their recipe. anyway, there is nothing adventurous in my bowl today. i'm not a fan of tripe in my pho but i do like tendon, fatty brisket, and sometimes meat balls. today, i was attempting to be healthy and i already ordered the banh xeo too, but J. did a good job helping me eat it. he was a banh xeo virgin until today. boy, it's fun eating out with me!
this was J's vermicelli bowl with thit nuong (grilled pork chop) and cha gio (fried egg rolls). i wasn't offered a bite and i prefer my thit nuong over crushed rice with a fried egg on top anyways.
thien an is cash only, they are closed on saturdays, and they close at 6 pm on other nights. you can find me here almost once every week eating a cheap lunch.