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“Good Conversation, Not So Good Food”
Review of Fai Foo Cafe - CLOSED

Fai Foo Cafe
Cuisines: Vietnamese
Restaurant details
McAllen, Texas, United States
Level Contributor
20 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Good Conversation, Not So Good Food”
Reviewed April 16, 2012

After hearing from an old friend about the good Vietnamese food at a place in Rockport (or was it Port Aransas) I decided to give the Fai Foo a try. Though a westerner, I lived in the city of Huế, Việt Nam, in 2005-06 and know a thing or two about Vietnamese food.

And I found two things - the two owners of the Fai Foo are wonderful people - I had a great time talking with them. I also found out the food is so-so.

The Fai Foo is named after the city of Hoi An, a small port near the city of Danang. Many years ago, the Portuguese named the place Faifo - and that is where the husband-owner hails from. Kim, the wife, is the talker. She is originally from Ban Mê Thuột, but tells you she is from Sài Gòn. It was a pleasure to talk to them.

The food is another topic. I ordered phở and spring rolls. The phở was very plain - none of the kick that good phở has. And, it wasn't even served with bean sprouts. They tried to pass shredded cabbage off as a substitute. The spring rolls tasted okay, but were very loosely rolled. The peanut sauce was just average, and could have used some peppers in it.

Bottom line? Good conversation, slightly below average food. Ambiance? None - Kim also has her tailor shop as part of the cafe.

  • Visited April 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Doug Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

24 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    15
    7
    1
    1
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
23 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Tom Yum Yummy!”
Reviewed March 12, 2012

Best Tom Yum soup and freshest spring rolls we've ever had! A short drive from the main shopping area and not much look at, but better than any I've had in Austin. Home cooking by a very friendly couple. Will take their quality over a just average buffet anytime! Tell Kim we said Hi!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Texicanbybirth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Wonderful eats off the beaten path”
Reviewed March 9, 2012

Great Vietnamese food served by a very lovely hard-working couple. Worth the short drive from the beach. Our only suggestion is that the atmosphere could stand for some improvement. Minimally, some ethnic music in the background would be nice. That said, great hospitality and food made for a lovely meal.

  • Visited March 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Doogie20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
austin
Level Contributor
26 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Out of the way, however worth the short drive.”
Reviewed February 28, 2012

Different lunch specials every day.
Will "spice it up" to suit your taste.
Just ask what level of "heat" you would like.
Everything cooked to order.
Try a soup and spring rolls while your meal is prepared.
-----

  • Visited February 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank AustinTripster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Upper Michigan
Level Contributor
13 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Wonderful! Great food with fresh ingredients and flavors.”
Reviewed February 24, 2012

We went to lunch on a Thursday at noon, and the place was empty at first. The menu is extensive, mixing Vietnamese and Thai selections. It was hard to decide, because everything sounded so good. But I ordered spring rolls for our appetizer, and my lunch was the "Fai Foo Special" plate (description said baby clams, sesame, cilantro). My husband ordered Spicy Lemongrass Shrimp with Rice. The waiter (owner) and I chatted a bit, and I mentioned I loved spicy food. He told me that'd make it as spicy as I wanted. The woman came out with soup, and it was the best thing I ever tasted! She told me her husband mentioned I liked spicy, and that her peppers came from her garden out back. The Tom Yum soap wasn't like anything I ever had- when I told her that, she smiled and said that she had gotten ideas from other restaurants in her travels and she combined all those ideas to make her perfect soup, with fresh ingredients. Then came the spring rolls. They tasted so fresh and the peanut sauce she brought out for them was awesome. Our meals were great also- perfect amount of spice with a depth of fresh flavor that I couldn't believe. Our total for this meal, with two ice teas (constant refills) was $28 with tax.
As we chatted with Kim (the owner) about this great meal, she mentioned that fishermen will bring in their catch to have her prepare it- "But they must come early as it has to marinate!". Since we are avid fishermen, we've already made plans to go back with redfish next week, and ask her to make something for us. She said to bring the fish by 11 AM and come for dinner.
They have beer and wine at a reasonable price, but you can also BYOB according to the menu.
Overall, this restaurant exceeded any expectations I had. Fresh food, custom prepared, "home cooked", and of great quality all combined with a friendly welcoming attitude by people proud of their food. The price was more than reasonable for what we received, and there are less expensive options with chicken or pork or beef.
I will try to right another review after we take in our own fish with a follow up of that.

  • Visited February 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank yooperchick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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