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Saturday, September 05, 2009


Authentic Southeast Asian Food: Inexpensive and Fun at Pooh Saan

If you like Pad Thai noobles, Vietnamese Pho soups, or other southeast Asian specialties, or want the best bubble tea around (a.k.a. pearl tea or Boba tea), you should consider my exciting new find, Pooh Saan. It's a small, inexpensive cafe/restaurant at the intersection of Richmond St. and Northland Avenue (621 W, Northland Ave., Appleton), just behind (directly south of) Fazoli's on the southeast corner of the intersection. It has cheap tables and chairs and is pretty small inside, so you're not going there for the ambiance, but for the exotic and inexpensive food.

I tried the "exotic" version of Pho soup and really enjoyed it, though that version will be very foreign to many American palettes (the "classic" version might be safer). It's related to the Hmong "fawm" noodle soup dish with broth, noodles, meatballs, veggies, and especially fresh basil leaves. The species of basil they use is terrific - loaded with rich, aromatic flavor. Wow! I also had some of my wife's beef "laab" dish, with very spicy beef. My favorite part of that was the exotic purple rice that comes with it. I've made purple rice before and consider it a true delicacy. Comes from an unusual species of rice and takes a lot of time to prepare. Yum.

The eggrolls were some of the best you'll find. Completely fresh and tasty.

I think my favorite part of the visit was the "Boba Tea" (pearl tea or bubble tea - the Asian specialty that is like a smoothie or shake with large pearls of tapioca in the bottom, served with an extra wide straw that lets you suck them up if you want). The pearls were much better than in the last bubble teas I tried in China Town of Chicago. I mentioned that to the owner and he said the difference is that he makes them fresh twice a day, once for lunch and then again for dinner, avoiding the stale, beanlike quality that can be found when the pearls aren't fresh. Nice.

You can get excellent entrees for $7.95, and the pearl tea is $3.95.

I've noticed that the more authentic southeast Asian restaurants in the U.S. often have names that don't seem to have been carefully crafted with the help of American focus groups. Thus, my favorite Thai restaurant in Atlanta was Phuket Thai - please be careful how you pronounce that in public. One of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in the Fox Valley is Poo Dong, and now we have the highly authentic Pooh Saan. If that's your first stop for the evening, maybe you could consider a version of the old Abbot and Costello gag, "Who's On First?" but with "Pooh Saan First." But gags or not, you should give them a try.

I recently made friends with the very sharp and intelligent owner, a young man who grew up in the area but has roots in Laos. He and his wife run Pooh Saan. Be sure to say hello from Jeff if you go, and let me know what you experience.
I don't believe that their egg rolls are some of the best you'll find. If you want good Spring Rolls and Egg Rolls go to Appleton Farmers Market. Also, their Laab is not good and the flavors are tasteless. Too much beansprouts. I would have to say that the best thing about their place is the Bubble Tea however the tapioca pearls where hard. The prices are expensive and the spring rolls may be cheap, but the quality and favor of it is not worth the money.
After reading the article, I thought I would give this place a try. Since it was exotic, not so much after trying their food. I was really disappointed in their Pad Thai. The eggrolls were not crispy at all.
This place is awesome!!! The pho is soooo good (best hangover cure ever) as is the laab & papaya salad. Second favorite restaurant in Appleton, YUM!
This place is awesome! The Laab is wonderful as is their Pho! I haven't decided which boba tea is the best but the mango/peach and the coconut are delishous!
Give them a try, you won't be disappointed!
Sorry to say, but your prices are too expensive for the amount and quality of food. The pho was not good and service is too long of a wait even though there were not many customers.
The pho is horrible. I will never pay $8.00 for a bowl of pho. However, it's the only place in the city that has decent pho. I'm not saying it's the BEST because there needs to be more noodles and meat for the price of $8.00. I can get my pho in other cities for a cheaper price. I will never eat there again because of the cheap quality of ingredients in their pho.
I went to Pooh Saan for the first time last week and it was just what I needed. It was quiet with a very warm and personable manager. He was very clear and patient in explaining everything AND it was all amazing. We weren't able to have the egg rolls because his wife is the one who is entrusted with this task and she was out of town. However, we had the spring roll and that was among the best I've ever had. The chicken laab entree is by far the tastiest dish, of any cuisine, I've had since I first had the love-love roll at Koreana.

I highly recommend Pooh Saan and intend to go there in a bit to get my lunch that I've looked forward to having there all week. I hope his wife is back so I can sample the egg rolls that all my friends claim is the best.
Also - never having had Pho before, only reading about it in the New Yorker, I sampled my friend's Pho...I don't normally enjoy soups, but this was hearty, yet light and I do intend to get one the next chilly day we have and I'm free to go.
I think their Pho is wonderful. I had never had it before and can't compare it to anywhere else, but it's tasty and comforting and hits the spot every time. Also, the regular size bowl is incredibly filling. I haven't been able to finish one yet. I've tried the Coconut and HoneyDew Boba and both were delicious. My husband tried the Thai Iced Coffee this last time and it too, was quite tasty.
even with the new ownership the food still no really tasty ! i got a bold of pho i start to eat then i saw the meat ball i look closer and i can c the meat ball was over due , maybe they don t even know when they buy at the store market but it s gross ! ... the papaya so little amount for $6 !!!!!! the taste is over plain ... sorry ! but this really sucks that people want do restaurant and don t even know how to cook !!!!! .... learn your cooking first b4 u open a restaurant PLEASE !!!!! u make asian sick ! ....
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