We used to go to Pho Dat Thanh for the pho, but now that we have discovered the House Special Thin Egg Noodle Soup (what a mouthful), there’s no going back.
The soup is “C1” on the menu. K was the first one to order it, and neither of us have gotten anything else since. The soup comes with “shrimp, fish balls, squid, barbecue pork and fried shrimp cake.” For the record we haven’t seen the fried shrimp cake on the dish since the first time we ordered it. That’s okay though, because what I’m really there for is not the fish balls, nor the pork, nor the shrimp, nor the (frankly kind of mushy) pieces of artificial crab. No, it’s the slender egg noodles, and the broth.
I have no idea what goes into this broth, but it tastes like my childhood. It’s exactly the type of broth that I remember from my parents’ trips to Chinatown, salty and savory and ever-so-slightly tangy (from what, I don’t know. Garlic? Green onions?). I’ve had this broth served up with Cantonese style wontons, the ones with lots of shrimp and vegetables and a thin, almost transparent skin. Wonton noodle soup is a total comfort food for me, warm and reassuring.
In Columbia, the “house special thin egg noodle soup” is as close as I’ve gotten to classic Cantonese wonton noodle soup. It makes sense that Pho Dat Thanh would offer a soup with Cantonese flavors; I’m told the owners were Cantonese who grew up in Vietnam.
The only downside to impulse soup dinner is that the place apparently does a bustling business on weeknights, and there was a bit of a wait at the door (and then, once we got a table, we had to wait even longer for the waitstaff to notice that no one had taken our orders). Next time I’m ordering carryout. At least the crowds mean that the Columbia restaurant scene is alive and well.
Pho Dat Thanh is on Snowden River Parkway in Columbia. For other menu options there, see HowChow’s review.