Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hai KY

1931 E Oltorf St # B

Austin, TX 78741
(512) 693-2464

A co-worker (Kevin) and I decided to try a different Pho restaurant than Phở 888, on Oltorf. I had read a few reviews before deciding on the place so and based on the reviews, the place was worth a try.

Typically, Vietnamese restaurants that have Phở or Mi on their sign, specialize in soup. So, you shouldn't expect to see Banh Mi, Clay Pot, Bo luc lac, or any other Vietnamese dish on the menu. Typically, when I have Vietnamese, I have Phở, which is why I chose Hai KY. Phở and Mi were on the sign so, I would be judging them on my typical meal at a Phở restaurant: Spring Rolls, Phở Dàc Biêt, and Cà phê sữa đá.

Ok, Hai KY is a pretty small place and I could see that it's popularity outstrips it's seating. We ended up sitting at a bar facing the window, so I had to turn and face Kevin when I wasn't slurping noodles. We shared the bar with 3 other people but, many of the customers were sharing tables with strangers. This is typical for a Phở restaurant. The wait staff was quick and courteous, seating us quickly, getting our orders quickly, serving the appetizer quickly and leaving us just enough time to finish them before the main course was delivered. They even delivered the bill early so people with short lunch breaks (like me and Kevin) could rush back to their jobs.

On to the meal. The Spring Rolls had the right ingredients (pork, shrimp, noodles), were not rubbery or chewy, and the taste was completely obscured by one of the most peanut-y tasting peanut sauces I've ever had. It was so good, I had a few spoonfulls when the Spring Rolls ran out. I should have had a bite without dipping it in the sauce.

It takes a while for the coffee to drain out of the drip filter so I usually drink the Cà phê sữa đá after the meal so, I'll get back to this.

The soup stock (which is really the heart of Phở) was not that great, sadly. Since this was Phở Dàc Biêt, I expected to see a mountain of eye round, and flank steak, tripe and soft tendon, but, there wasn't really much to go around. There wasn't much in the way of noodles either. The bulk of the solids were white onions, green onions, and cilantro. It was worth about the price I paid for it (under $6). By comparison, though, most Phở kitchens give you much more for the price.

Towards the end of the meal, the Cà phê sữa đá was ready (as predicted), so I mixed it all up, and poured it over the ice. I've never had a bad glass of Cà phê sữa đá... until today. It tasted bad. I still can't place exactly what the problem was. Could it be the water was too hot, or the grains too old or was it that the condensed milk was expired? I ended up leaving half a glass, which never happens.

I'll reserve my final judgement until I visit them again, since it could have been an off day. Until then:

Eric - 4.5