Oct 14, 2011 - Alberta, Canada, Restaurants, Travel    2 Comments

Thuan Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant, Lethbridge

After work, I needed to get away from the apartment complex, so I decided to walk to a restaurant for dinner. I was in the mood for ‘exotic’ and decided to head over to a Vietnamese restaurant,¬†Thuan Hoa, near head office, about 1.5 km away. It just so happened that Jody’s daughter recommended it to me during Thanksgiving lunch.

I haven’t had Vietnamese in ages, maybe even since I left Ottawa. I used to meet a friend at a Vietnamese restaurant in the Hull sector of Gatineau on a regular basis, with my favourite dish being squid in a sweet and spicy black bean sauce served with tasty minty spring rolls. So tonight I looked forward to a wonderful, fragrant, tasty dinner.

Well. There was nothing wrong with the food at Thuan Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant, but it was bland! What?!

I had the dinner combo 1A: two salad rolls, a spring roll, vermicelli, and pork, for $11.50. When I’d looked at the menu online, it said I could add a bubble tea for $2.50, but I found out that was just for take out orders. The server let me have it for that price anyway since I had waited so patiently to order; I asked for a mango tea.

The salad rolls were very pretty roll ups of rice paper, vermicelli, shrimp, cucumber, and lettuce served with a sweet peanut dipping sauce. Where was the Vietnamese mint?! Without the sauce, the rolls had great texture but no taste.

Dinner came in a giant bowl. If I had known the portions were going to be so outrageous, I would have had only one roll and half the dinner and brought the rest home. Anyway, the dinner was a bed of vermicelli over which were a carroty over-cooked spring roll (at least there was sweet fish dipping sauce on the side), really tasty crispy pork, and more lettuce and cucumber. I had to drizzle peanut sauce over everything to get any real flavour.

The mango bubble tea was a huge disappointment. It was the creamy kind that was pure sugar. The tapioca bubbles literally made my teeth hurt they were so sweet. I thought I’d had bad bubble tea before, but this was terrible! I didn’t even finish it. Next time I want a mango bubble tea, I’ll do like I did last time, and pay the $5 for a fresh juice one at Umi Sushi.

It would be grossly unfair of me to say that this was a terrible meal. Tea excepted, everything was fresh and beautifully prepared with generous portions. I just can’t get used to the way flavour is stripped out of cuisines out west to suit the meat and potatoes palate of the population. The only thing I was pleased with was the pork. I’ve only just started to eat pork again and am finicky about grizzle, but this was cooked and seasoned perfectly. It’s just a shame that everything else was so plain.

The restaurant is very popular and was super busy. I won’t be going back, but I can’t categorically not recommend it. It was really a case of the food not being right for me rather than the food not being right.

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  • Frankly the meal sounds awful and terribly expensive in the bargain. You are being too nice!

  • […] really enjoyed our meal at Chez Lien, especially when compared to my last experience at a Vietnamese restaurant! If I were to go back there, I would most likely have the lemongrass chicken again. It was just too […]

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