This is one of my happy places. The first time I went in, there was an empty fish tank, a non-working ATM and a motorcycle in the middle of the store. The motorcycle's gone now, but I don't let that stop me from enjoying the atmosphere. That said, their deli offerings seriously delight me. Their zongzi (sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf) are way bigger than Bui's and are filled with like a freaking hamhock of delight. In fact, their selections are generally heartier than Bui's, a fact that makes me prefer Thanh Son. Their desserts are pretty solid. The banh da lon (pandan sticky delicious thing) were fresh and soft with a nice mung bean filling. The bak tong gou (the yeast and rice honeycomb cake) came with coconut sauce, but were a bit too sweet for me and a little stale. I should have realized as they were in the fridge. At Bui, they were fresh, soft and tangy and much preferred there. Their banh cuon, the when they have it, is out of this world delicious -- soft fat rice noodles wrapped around pork and mushrooms with fried onions that you can drizzle a sweet salty hot fish sauce all over. A texture and flavor explosion! Coming here and filling up with about a bazillion assorted Vietnamese delicacies and paying about $20 is GUARANTEED to make me happy. The best time to come here is definitely earlier before they sell out of all their deli offerings. Today I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping for a giant zongzi for dinner! Alas they had sold out (this was around 4 pm). I did buy a thousand other things though and left fat and happy. I will remain so for days, too! I like the folks there, too, which always helps my wanting to go back. TOFU WARS REVIEW: The fried tofu is $2.75 per pound for the onion and vermicelli tofu (super delicious when fresh -- just load up a grocery bag full!) and the dry lemon grass. I especially love the spicy lemon grass tofu. They were really nice and let me try it first and I've been hooked on this EVER since. Bui and Ota do not have anything like this, and THIS is enough to have me coming back here ever since. The fresh tofu is the second firmest of the three fresh tofu manufacturers. It is a firm pressed tofu with a good flavor and holds up well when stir-frying. However, it is flavorful and light enough to be enjoyable raw if you are simply going to cube it with soy sauce, ginger and scallions. I enjoyed this tofu's texture, but found Ota's to be silkier in texture. As opposed to Ota, a store that has 3 tofu options, Thanh and Bui both only have one fresh tofu option (firm). I preferred Than Son's fresh tofu to Bui's. The fresh tofu pudding (one of my favorite desserts since I was a child) comes in a truly gargantuan sized container. Much larger and cheaper than Bui's portions, you get enough silken pudding for a whole large Asian family dinner party. (Or me. Me to eat many times). You get a separate container of sugar cane ginger sauce as well for the pudding, and unlike Bui's pudding, it's not resting in water.
Lin H. on Sep 3, 2013