Mot Hai Ba’s Hanoian pho has caused quite a stir in Dallas since opening in April, 2013. The latest hotspot opened by Good To Go owners, Jeanna Johnson and Colleen O’Hare, this pint sized Vietnamese restaurant has become a big player in Dallas’ dining scene. The beef pho in question which follows a Northern style (Dallasites are accustomed to Southern style pho) has thrown off critics and customers alike with it’s subtly sweet broth that is dark in color but thinner in consistency.
Unfazed, the IttyBittyFoodies slurped through every last bit of the bowl of pho with tender pieces of brisket and rare filet mignon which cooked lightly in the broth. A plate of basil, cilantro and sliced Thai chilies, along with a perfectly fried savory donut accompanies the pho. On first try, the boys avoided putting any herbs in but the more bowls of pho they’ve consumed, they’ve not only started to enjoy the different herbs but have even tried licking the Thai chili for thrills. The bowl was just right for sharing between a 8 & 5 year old. Thank goodness because the beef pho is also a hefty $12!
Housed in the old York Street/Watels location, the restaurant is no bigger than a jewelry box. The sign outside says “1-2-3″ which is the English translation for “Mot Ha Bai”. There are several communal tables inside and customers weave in and out comfortably sharing their eating space. They don’t have high chairs due to the space constraints but that does not mean it’s not child friendly. The staff are fantastic and friendly and we see children there a lot. Incidentally, the patio is also convenient for those with wandering legs.
But if you don’t care for this style of pho, there’s plenty of other offerings like my favorite which is a chargrilled pork belly with a pork meatball in a fragrant, spicy and sour soup. The pork has delicious burnt ends while the meatball is juicy with a slight kick in it. A side of vermicelli and an imperial roll accompanies the meal. I like to dip the vermicelli in the slurp worthy flavor-packed broth and then wrap the imperial roll in a lettuce leaf with herbs to eat.
It’s a big portion so we’d recommend sharing it so that you can order a side of their tangy green papaya with crispy beef salad which perfect meld of sweet, spicy, sour and salty flavors.
The bahn mi Vietnamese sandwiches in either pork or beef are also hard to pass up. The baguette is so, so crisp and soft at the same time and never paper dry (my big complaints about baguettes).
The big splurge at lunch is the Hanoian lunch with a changing entree like jumbo chargrilled prawns or halibut. The lunch is served with crisp salad, rice, imperial rolls and a side of fruit with an Asian twist (we got dragonfruit). You’ll have to be very hungry for this but it’s a treat.
If you have room for dessert, there’s coffee and donuts rolled in one. Lovely doughy puffs served with an affogato (a shot of espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). Mot Hai Ba is a nice change from Vietnamese restaurants out in the suburbs. It’s upmarket decor and trendy locale makes it accessible to non Asian folks but there’s lots of authenticity in the food. If you want to go for pho, it’s only served during lunch just like in Vietnam. And don’t even ask for hoisin sauce, there isn’t any! You can tell that this is a labor of love for owners, O’hare and Johnson and a culinary gift to Dallas. 1-2-3 what are you waiting for?!
Click here for more information on Mot Hai Ba.
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ITTY BITTY INFO:
- Food: Hanoian Vietnamese street food that’s different to what most Dallasites are accustomed to
- Ambiance: Beautiful Vietnamese photos adorn the walls, communal tables makes things friendly between diners
- Service: The staff here are wonderful, always welcoming to families and never hurried
- Kid Friendliness: (only because it’s tiny and they don’t have high chairs)
- Itty Bitty Foodies Tip: Pho is only available at lunch time
- Parent Foodies Tip: The best time to go is early to avoid the big rush from the Baylor medical crowd at lunch