Sunday, May 9, 2010

Banh Xeo Tao Ngo - San Jose

I don't know when this business started operating. We found out last week when we happened to drive pass Senter road. Curious about it, we made time and stopped by on Saturday afternoon. The place was smaller than it looked outside. Most of them were occupied. Everybody on the table seemed to be done eating and waiting for something. Who knows what they're waiting for. The vibe wasn't right. We seldom go to a restaurant where people are more interested in guests that are coming in than the food in front of them. I already knew that it's going to take a while for our food because service wasn't going smooth.

Waited for around 2 minutes without nobody to acknowledge us, we decided to just go ahead and took a seat ourselves. Finally a man came and brought us the menu. Menu wasn't very intensive. Huge fonts and pictures took up a lot of space. But in all, I think they only offered around 20 items of food and around 10 in drinks. It seemed like their specialty is banh xeo - the Vietnamese crepes. But we weren't in the mood for crepes, so me and hubby each ordered pho and an order of banh khot as appetizer. The man asked whether we would like any drink so we thought hot tea would be fine.

The first thing that came out was the banh khot. Looked like the picture - seven pieces of tinier-than-cup- cakes banh khot came with a platter of green veggies and dipping sauce. We never tried any banh khot before so I couldn't really say whether those were good or not. But judging from the time it took, I guess they were prepared ahead of time. They weren't hot, more like just room temperature. The coconut milk filling in the middle of the banh khot seemed to be a little out of place. But I don't know how they suppose to taste like.

Then my bowl of pho came. One thing I noticed immediately was the black pepper floating on the soup. Then a plate of bean sprout came. But the plate was more for single serving so I was wondering why would they do single serving condiment while my hubby also ordered pho. We waited another 5 minutes and when for sure there was no sign of another bowl coming. I asked the same man that took our order. He said yes he'd check on it. Then another man came with a plate of banh khot AGAIN ! We told him no we already got our banh khot. Then we tried to look for the man that took our order but he wasn't around. The woman instead came half way looking at our table but looked puzzled. The man that took our order finally came and said sorry and then took my hubby's order and said he'd make it faster. By then hubby was mad. He was ready to walk out without his pho.

Finally he did get his bowl of pho. Our pho were pretty much bland. I had to add fish sauce to my bowl and tons of sriracha sauce. For the price of $6.95 (I believe), there wasn't much meat in my bowl. I could live with that if only the broth was more flavorful but this wasn't at all. And the hot tea that we ordered never came at all. We didn't even notice if they charged us for it or not.

The final hit to our experience that day was when hubby went to pay at the cashier. The same man who missed hubby's order was manning the register. He mistaken hubby's $25 as $40 and gave him back more chance than he should. That's it. Being a new place they could have a lot of holes on their services. But making mistakes on register ??? That's big NO NO in any business. I felt bad for them. It's like a bunch of amateurist running a business.

Banh Xeo Tao Ngo Restaurant
2651 Senter Road (in the Senter Plaza), San Jose, CA 95111