Quick... What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vietnamese food? Pho? Banh Mi? CTV's filthiest restaurants? On that note, it's amazing that most of the places I go are on that list. Ultimately we are at the mercy of what restaurants want to put on their menu. Thus, we are quite familiar with Pho, Banh Mi, Spring Rolls, Salad Rolls and the sort. Not until recently, I tried the Beef 7-Ways at Thai Hang. Well, it was more like Beef 5-ways, since they didn't have the other 2. It is offered only in a select few Vietnamese restaurants in town. Other than Thai Hang, Song Huong is the only other place I know for sure that serves it. Luckily for me, they have a Surrey location in addition to the one on Nanaimo in Vancouver. Why? Well, Pomegranate and I could swing by for lunch at the Surrey location, not the Vancouver one! The first thing I noticed is that this location is a whole lot smaller than the one in Vancouver. We thought the plastic green bananas and chili peppers with a slight dusting of cobwebs really enhanced the decor. Seriously, it doesn't matter, we were not here for the ambiance... Knowing how we were about to eat lots, I picked a larger table (from my last experience at Thai Hang, you need space for this meal!).
I know the the last time at Thai Hang we only got 5 ways although the menu stated 7. The menu here at Song Huong specifically states Beef 5-Ways. There is no Beef 7-ways! Has downsizing and belt-tightening affected this meal as well? What's next? Beef 1-way? Isn't that just a "steak" here in North American cuisine? I certainly hope this trend doesn't continue! Fine, 5-ways it is... I guess for that reason we added an order of spring rolls to make up for the missing 2 courses. The crispy blistered exterior gave way to a "tight" filling of meat, vermicelli, carrots and wood ear mushrooms. I mention that the filling was "tight" because it was a whole lot better than the one at Bao Chau. The one there was mushy and loose.
As for our beef meal, the first course was the sliced rare beef, which we cooked in a hot pot on a portable burner. The beef was plenty fresh; yet it was a tad chewy. If it was sliced a bit thinner, it would've been easier to chew. Also included in the meal were hot sauce, lemongrass, sweet anchovy sauce and cooked vermicelli. On another plate, we were supplied with pickled daikon/carrots, pearl onions, bean sprouts, cucumber, tomato, romaine lettuce, mint, Thai basil and perilla leaves. We proceeded to make our own salad rolls with the supplied dry rice wrappers (which we soaked in hot water first). A tip to those who have never had this meal before - only dip the rice wrapper briefly in the hot water. It further softens once you put it on the plate. Otherwise, it'll be too wet. Also, don't be too greedy and overload the wrapper, you won't be able to close it. I learned this the hard way at Thai Hang. This time around, I was a roll wrapping superstar. LOL...
The next beef dish was the Satay Beef. Buoyed by a mound of picked veggies, there was actually very little meat here. Furthermore, the meat was also quite chewy and dry. The beef at Thai Hang was both more tender and flavourful. Apparently, the 3rd, 4th and 5th courses of beef were the beef meatballs/sausages. One version is wrapped in pepper leaves. Another is wrapped in fat and one is more sweet. However, I have a hard time differentiating between the two, except one has onion. By the time we were finishing up, we were stuffed beyond belief. Seeing that his meal will only set you back $26.00, it is a good value. However, it's really too bad that there wasn't the 7-course option. It's funny how I've had this meal twice and have yet to experience the full 7-courses. I may need to do this next time I'm in California since it is more prevalent done there. But for now, I'm more than satisfied with this unique meal that is definitely a change from the usual pho options.
- Good value
- Food quality appears to be solid
- Friendly staff
- Restaurant a bit run down (not particularly unusual for this type of restaurant)
- No Beef 7-Ways option