Lunch In @ Pho Lang Thang

Count me as one of the many who waited patiently for Pho Lang Thang to open up at Findlay Market.  I had just eaten lunch prior to a trip to Findlay a few weeks back when they had a soft opening, but this weekend I knew the time had come.  I'd hoped to be wowed, or at least thoroughly pleased, by my visit, but it turns out I'm still in the boat of being patient and hopeful.  It's clear they've got some kinks to work out, and they're very new, so grace is clearly in order.

The Food:  I asked for the most flavorful thing on the menu, and the young woman at the register quickly suggested the banh mi thit nuong - a baguette sandwich with grilled lemongrass marinated meat, garlic butter mayo, do chua (pickled daikon and carrots), cucumber, and cilantro.  They asked if I wanted jalapenos and pate as well, and I went for it.  I also ordered goi cuon or "salad rolls" with sliced pork, whole shrimp, vermicelli noodles, cilantro, and lettuce wrapped in rice paper with a sauce on the side.

I hate to say it, because I wanted so much to love it, but the sandwich was disappointing.  I told them to choose whatever meat was the most flavorful, and I'm not sure if it was a mistake or on purpose, but I got mostly beef and some pork too.  Neither really stood out, so no recommendation there.  The bummer was that the sandwich just wasn't that flavorful.  Nothing popped.  Maybe it needs more of the mayo, maybe a higher ingredients to bread ratio, maybe more salt, maybe all of the above.  I put some sriracha on after I ate the first half and that helped a bit (I could barely taste the jalapenos - maybe that'll change when they're in season next year), but something was still left to be desired.

The best thing I got was the order of salad rolls.  The shrimp were perfectly cooked - not tough - and the slice of pork adds some additional weight to sink your teeth into.  The hoisin and peanut dipping sauce was pretty thick (too molasses like for my taste), and the peanuts were nearly nonexistent.  If I could have Pho Lang Thang's roll with Cilantro's sauce, I'd be especially happy.

The Ingredients:  Nothing noted about local or organic ingredients.  They do make note of some vegan and vegetarian options, which I'm sure many people will appreciate.

The Story, Setting, & Service:  Several of the initial reviews have noted this, so I guess I'm going to have to pile on.  I ordered my food at 1:20 and was told it'd be ready in 30 minutes.  That's a long time to wait for take out.  When I was told that, I thought "ok, they'll under-promise and over-deliver."  I actually waited 40 minutes.

The space they have at Findlay is quite large, with lots of tables to the right and left of the kitchen and counter.  I don't know if they have too many tables and not enough cooking space, or they haven't been well prepared (banh mi and salad rolls shouldn't require anything other than composition of pre-made ingredients), or they don't have enough staff, or all of the above.  But, they've got their work cut out for them.

The Last Bite: I think they'll get things figured out because they seemed like nice people and there plenty of good signs - a thorough menu with plenty of options, a well put together restaurant space, etc.  But, for the mean time, I'm still a Cilantro guy.  But with my office in OTR and no banh mi at Cilantro, I'm looking forward to Pho Lang Thang living up to its potential.

Pho Lang Thang on Urbanspoon

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