For years I’ve heard people (including myself) complain that all Sioux Falls really needed was a solid Thai restaurant. I have driven all the way to Box Elder to eat at Baan Thai, but I needed my fix more often (if you haven’t been, get there).
Then it was announced last fall that it was finally happening. Pho Thai moved into Shriver Square where it took over the former Cookie Jar location (Cookie Jar renovated and moved into the former Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. office across the hall). The sit-down restaurant serves traditional Thai and Vietnamese dishes, and we couldn’t wait to get in and see what they had to offer.
It took some persistence and calls, but 605 multimedia designer Yany Avelar and I got in for a late lunch on a Tuesday. We were greeted by the manager, who gave us a corner booth in the intimate and impressive space. All of the windows had ornate cutout décor, which was a cool element, but it caused shadows for the photography portion of the review (alert the Instagram–taking connoisseurs). It really didn’t feel like we were in Shriver Square, and it gave me vibes that I could have a discreet meeting there.
Right away we were brought Thai Tea, and the manager emphasized that “it’s a fresh brew.” The colors were mesmerizing, and I mixed the concoction up, which created an even more eye-catching display. I myself am not a tea person, and I loved it. Like, I kept drinking it and didn’t just do a courtesy sip.
“This is so creamy, but not too sweet that it ruins your appetite or upsets your stomach,” I mentioned to Yany.
Busy taking images of her tea, she wrapped up and sat down to give it a whirl. Several positive noises came from her direction, and she commented, “It’s throwing me off because it tastes like creamy iced tea, and I really like it.”
As we shared this moment, mouths on straws, Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again ft. Charlie Puth blasted over the speakers. This followed Shawn Mendes, One Direction, and Ariana Grande.
“I do love how aggressive they are with their playlist,” said Yany as a server brought us Seafood Fried Rice.
I was super pumped that it had scallops, along with shrimp. Then Yany discovered tentacles.
“I’m pretty sure this is calamari,” she said.
She was correct.
Here’s my deal, I ate one, and I’ve had calamari before. I don’t hate it. And that’s all I’ll say on that. Yany went to town and ate many calamari.
Then came out the Shrimp Pad Thai with shrimp, vegetables, and “special sauce.” At the same time, they set down the Tom Yum, which was “seafood of the day” (patrons can order this or chicken) and was described as “hot and sour soup flavors with spices and herbs.”
+ Thai Gai Tod (Chicken Wings)
+ Classic Pho
+ Grilled Shrimp & Fried Pork Roll
FRIED RICE & NOODLES
+ Pineapple Fried Rice
THAI & VIETNAMESE DISHES
+ Thai Basil & Egg
We let the Pho Thai team pick our dishes, and we were kind of bummed that we didn’t get a little more range (the menu is pretty eclectic) and that it was all seafood.
“I think we have half of the sea on our table,” said Yany, as she looked at the spread.
The Shrimp Pad Thai was delicious, and it was what you would hope to get and expect at a Thai restaurant. The Tom Yum was a soup that neither of us were ready for. Yany took the first bite and said, “The flavor reminds me of black licorice.”
I took a bite and agreed. The soup was compiled of giant chunks of ingredients that were a little hard to fit into my tiny mouth, and I swear the pieces of tomato were a fourth of a tomato. It was not our cup of tea, but speaking of tea, I drank more of mine.
Dessert suddenly appeared. It was like a delicious strawberry shortcake with Jell-O. The sprinkles topped off the experience before we headed back to work.+
It’s so exciting there is a place to get Thai and Vietnamese downtown. It’s also exciting that it has tea I now crave. As I mentioned, there are a lot of items that we didn’t get to try, so I’m definitely going back to sample more of what Pho Thai has to offer. Also, I hope they keep up that amazing background music. Everything playing was a banger, and also made me miss Paul Walker.
+++ I really think they did a great job with the renovation of the space. Cookie Jar’s former layout was open in Shriver Square, and Pho Thai closed it off to make it more private, which I liked. I also appreciated the décor, and we both lost it at how cute the spice rack display was
$ Most items were under $15, which was a steal for the portion sizes. Just the fried rice alone could have fed two to three people.
✓✓✓ It was very delicious. I probably wouldn’t choose the Tom Yum again, but as we tasted it I could think of a handful of people who would have raved about it. I’m going back for the tea, and I’m probably going to order the fried rice with scallops again as I dabble with other offerings.