CoCo’s Cafe

Green Onion Pie 蔥油餅

My husband and I went to CoCo’s Cafe about a month ago, and again a few days ago.  I decided to combine pictures from both trips into one entry.

Anyway, I used to go to CoCo’s all the time back in college.  I always went to the Guadalupe location, but this time I took my husband to the one up north (near what used to be the Hong Kong Supermarket).  I wasn’t expecting much since most Chinese food here has been disappointing since coming back from Taiwan.  My husband was pleasantly surprised though.  The first time we went, we ordered the Green Onion Pie, Rice Ball, and Fried Chicken with Rice.  I suggested we get only the half order of Green Onion Pie.  As you can see in the picture above, the half order is still a lot of food.

Rice Ball 肉圓

The Rice Ball looked really good, but it didn’t taste as good when we finally got around to eating it.  I honestly think it’s because we didn’t eat it when it was still steaming hot.  We were too busy filling up on the Green Onion Pie and Fried Chicken with Rice.  Now, we know better.  The fried chicken dish was just all right, so I think we’ll skip that in the future.

The more recent time that we went, we were really looking forward to trying the Fried Squid appetizer.  We couldn’t find it on the menu, so I asked the cashier about it.  He told me that and the Eel Steak with Rice are no longer served.  How disappointing!

We were pretty hungry by then and ended up ordering more than we should have: Sa Cha Beef Lo Mein, Bamboo Leaves Sticky Rice, Fried Tofu, Spiced Kelp, and a Taro Milk Tea with Tapioca Pearls.

Sa Cha Beef Lo Mein 沙茶牛肉炒麵

The lo mein was a bit bland, so we added the sauce that came with the sticky rice.  It tasted much better after that.  Maybe I had my expectations raised after the first visit to CoCo’s, but I left a little disappointed.  The sticky rice was good, but nothing like what my grandma used to make.  Of course I’m biased because nothing will ever taste as good as Grandma’s cooking.

As for the fried tofu, I’m not a big fan of it to begin with.  I don’t get what’s so great about it.  Maybe it’s the dipping sauce that comes with it, or the crunchy exterior.  I don’t know.  My husband liked it though.

Spiced Kelp 海帶

The Spiced Kelp was decent.  It’s kind of hard to mess this up, though.  I don’t eat this for the taste, but more out of vanity.  I heard that eating lots of kelp will make your hair darker, and I’ve recently found a few white hairs.  I know it’s silly to think a side order of kelp will fix that, but hey…I’m desperate.

As for the Taro Milk Tea, it was decent for what I’ve had in America, but nothing compared to the stuff in Taiwan.  In Taiwan, you have the option of lots of ice/sugar, some ice/sugar, little ice/sugar, no ice/sugar.  Maybe I should’ve asked, but I didn’t think to.  The drink was too sweet in my opinion.  Plus, CoCo’s uses taro powder as opposed to real taro (most places use the powder, so I wasn’t surprised).  Again, the pearls were all right.

I realize I’m making this place sound mediocre.  It really wasn’t that bad, but I guess I just had higher hopes.  The service has been great both times, and it’s the closest thing to authentic Taiwanese food that I can find.  I would go back.

I leave you with some silly Chinglish.  I thought it was pretty cool that these drink tops now have cautionary labels.  I wonder if they have these because more non-Taiwanese people are jumping on the tapioca pearl bandwagon.  I feel like Taiwanese kids innately know how to consume tapioca pearls without choking on them.  So, to everyone who thinks tapioca pearls are a novel thing, please remember to chew thoroughly and not let children under 5 have any!

Caution: Not Safe for Children Under 5

On an unrelated note, CoCo’s only accepts credit cards with a minimum charge of $5.  If you only plan on getting a drink or appetizer, then remember to bring cash!

Pho Hoang

My husband and I went to Pho Hoang this morning for a late breakfast/early lunch.  I had just read about it on my friend’s blog and decided to try it.  We went to the one off of Rutland Drive, near Burnet.

As we pulled into the plaza, I looked around and realized I had been to this restaurant before when I was in university.  I remembered because it was “cash only”, and my friend and I, being broke college kids, only had enough money for about 75% of our bill.  The waitress was gracious enough to accept what we had.

Anyway, my husband and I walked in and were seated immediately.  There was only one other group of three, so the waiter took our orders and brought the food out quickly.  We both got the small bowl of the House Special Beef Pho.  The portion size was huge, especially considering it was only $5.85/bowl.

House Special Beef Pho

House special Beef Pho covered with bean sprouts, mint leaves, and basil with a few squeezes of lime juice; spoon of Sriracha and hoisin sauce on the side for meat-dipping

I’m not sure if we went on a bad day, but I wasn’t too impressed.  The broth was a little darker than I’m used to, which is usually a sign of too much beef paste.  It also wasn’t as fragrant as some of the other pho I’ve tried.  In Pho Hoang’s defense, I was suffering from bad allergies…it could’ve been that I couldn’t smell anything.  Going back to the overuse of beef paste, my husband and I both had slight headaches this afternoon.  We’re suspecting it might be from the over-flavoring and MSG of the soup.

I think I’ll just stick to my current go-to pho places.