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Is Tank Noodle really the best?

Is Tank Noodle really the best?
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  • Is Tank Noodle really the best?

    Post #1 - April 17th, 2007, 3:55 pm
    Post #1 - April 17th, 2007, 3:55 pm Post #1 - April 17th, 2007, 3:55 pm
    The BF and I got into a discussion this past Sunday at Tank Noodle about whether or not this place is really better than other places on Argyle or if it thrives based upon these factors:
    1. Highly visible location on the corner of Argyle and Broadway
    2. Easily memorable (and pronounceable) name
    3. Lots o' seating

    I feel that there is more word of mouth about Tank than any other places in Argyle. Don't get me wrong, I definitely like it there and would recommend it. However, I'm torn on the Tank Noodle spring rolls since they sometime use thicker rice paper wrapping that annoys me and so I wonder if I should really branch out. (This is important, because I could literally survive only on spring rolls)

    Other places I've been, but haven't become a regular at, even though they don't ever seem as crowded as Tank -
    Pho Xe Lua
    Tien Giang
    Pho 777/888/999 - frankly I can't keep them straight but don't remember anything objectionable (which is why the easily memorable name comes in handy...)
    Hai Yen (more crowded, but noticeably more non-Asians than Asians here every time I go)

    Places that scare me -
    Pho Hoa (this place is funky. some smells just shouldn't be in places where you pay to eat.)
    Cafe Hoang. Something about this place made me feel unclean. Food was decent, but again, couldn't put my finger on it.

    So...any opinions on my original question - is Tank Noodle really the best?
  • Post #2 - April 17th, 2007, 4:04 pm
    Post #2 - April 17th, 2007, 4:04 pm Post #2 - April 17th, 2007, 4:04 pm
    When you have such a high concentration of great food in an area like Argyle, I think it's oversimplifying (and counterproductive) to try to declare one "the best." There's so much good stuff to be had in that neighborhood from a number of different establishments. Why try to crown just one? I say enjoy 'em all for what they do well.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #3 - April 17th, 2007, 4:40 pm
    Post #3 - April 17th, 2007, 4:40 pm Post #3 - April 17th, 2007, 4:40 pm
    Dmnkly wrote:When you have such a high concentration of great food in an area like Argyle, I think it's oversimplifying (and counterproductive) to try to declare one "the best." There's so much good stuff to be had in that neighborhood from a number of different establishments. Why try to crown just one? I say enjoy 'em all for what they do well.


    Re: "is Tank Noodle really the best?"

    Dom, as you (and many others here) know, I eat Vietnamese food in the Argyle neighbourhood 2-3 times/week, and it is my opinion that Tank does a greater variety of dishes better than any other establishment. The breadth and depth of my dining experience in the neighbourhood has also given me the opinion that Tank does a wide variety of dishes better than any other establishment in the neighbourhood.

    Do you see the difference in the two statements above?

    And, do you see how they add up?

    When someone asks me whether or not Tank is the best I don't pause for consideration.

    E.M.
  • Post #4 - April 17th, 2007, 4:58 pm
    Post #4 - April 17th, 2007, 4:58 pm Post #4 - April 17th, 2007, 4:58 pm
    jn2001,

    Don't forget (though you might not have known), that 1&3 on your list are a result of, not the cause of, Tank's high esteem. As a matter of fact, Tank had previously been in a tiny storefront on the relatively more obscure eastern stretch of Argyle. It was packed, nonetheless, with Vietnamese diners. I find the word tank to be no more memorable or easy to say than 777 or Dong Ky, but the graphics are catchier.
  • Post #5 - April 17th, 2007, 5:02 pm
    Post #5 - April 17th, 2007, 5:02 pm Post #5 - April 17th, 2007, 5:02 pm
    No, I understand what you mean, and to be clear, if all of the neighborhood's restaurants except for one were to be razed to the ground, Tank is the one I'd rally behind based on limited experience without question. But especially in an area like Argyle, I think naming one "the best" encourages the kind of tunnel vision that can only cause you to miss the gems at other nearby establishments... the eight courses of fish you and I had at 777 this week is a perfect example (which I'll be posting about shortly! I swear!).

    It's a semantic argument, I suppose, but especially on a board like this where people (hopefully) aren't just stopping by Argyle for their token trip into an Asian neighborhood for the year, I think it's more value in trying to discover what various places do well rather than trying to declare one the best at the expense of all others.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #6 - April 17th, 2007, 5:06 pm
    Post #6 - April 17th, 2007, 5:06 pm Post #6 - April 17th, 2007, 5:06 pm
    Dmnkly wrote:No, I understand what you mean, and to be clear, if all of the neighborhood's restaurants except for one were to be razed to the ground, Tank is the one I'd rally behind based on limited experience without question. But especially in an area like Argyle, I think naming one "the best" encourages the kind of tunnel vision that can only cause you to miss the gems at other nearby establishments... the eight courses of fish you and I had at 777 this week is a perfect example (which I'll be posting about shortly! I swear!).

    It's a semantic argument, I suppose, but especially on a board like this where people (hopefully) aren't just stopping by Argyle for their token trip into an Asian neighborhood for the year, I think it's more value in trying to discover what various places do well rather than trying to declare one the best at the expense of all others.


    Exactly.

    If someone instead asks me which establishment in the Arglye neighbourhood does the best such-and-such, it's an entirely different ballgame.

    E.M.
  • Post #7 - April 18th, 2007, 1:23 pm
    Post #7 - April 18th, 2007, 1:23 pm Post #7 - April 18th, 2007, 1:23 pm
    Tank Noodle is the only Vietnamese joint around Argyle I have visited.

    I, unlike others, can say -without reservation- that it is the best I have had around there.

    All joking aside I had an amazing meal there. I will be back seeing as how I recently moved into the neighborhood.
    I'm not Angry, I'm hungry.
  • Post #8 - April 18th, 2007, 2:57 pm
    Post #8 - April 18th, 2007, 2:57 pm Post #8 - April 18th, 2007, 2:57 pm
    What is the latest report on "Pasteur"?

    BTW, the Pasteur owner is branching out to Glendale Hts as well. The other day, I notice there is a restaurant in construction at the corner of North Ave and Schmale, behind Starbucks.
    The name of the restaurant is "Vietnamse Bistro - Pho Pasteur".

    Nghe
  • Post #9 - April 18th, 2007, 4:18 pm
    Post #9 - April 18th, 2007, 4:18 pm Post #9 - April 18th, 2007, 4:18 pm
    Metromix says "Pasteur is closing after dinner service April 28, 2007."
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #10 - April 18th, 2007, 4:36 pm
    Post #10 - April 18th, 2007, 4:36 pm Post #10 - April 18th, 2007, 4:36 pm
    They probably gonna shift their focus and resources to further marketing the Viet Bistro place in Rogers Park and the soon-to-be-opened place in Glendale Hts.
  • Post #11 - April 18th, 2007, 9:05 pm
    Post #11 - April 18th, 2007, 9:05 pm Post #11 - April 18th, 2007, 9:05 pm
    Pasteur - not worth it. Terrible service, and prices are 2-3x as expensive as Argyle venues. I'm not surprised it's closing.
  • Post #12 - April 18th, 2007, 11:06 pm
    Post #12 - April 18th, 2007, 11:06 pm Post #12 - April 18th, 2007, 11:06 pm
    Yeah, as far as I'm concerned Pasteur was a nice restaurant that closed with the fire in '95. The new one was charmless and overpriced.
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  • Post #13 - April 18th, 2007, 11:27 pm
    Post #13 - April 18th, 2007, 11:27 pm Post #13 - April 18th, 2007, 11:27 pm
    Mike G wrote:Yeah, as far as I'm concerned Pasteur was a nice restaurant that closed with the fire in '95. The new one was charmless and overpriced.


    I disagree. The new one was charming, in an-appeal-to-the-Lincoln-Park-types-who-want-to-tell-themselves-they're-being-adventurous kind of way. And, of course, being overpriced supported that positioning.
  • Post #14 - April 19th, 2007, 11:00 am
    Post #14 - April 19th, 2007, 11:00 am Post #14 - April 19th, 2007, 11:00 am
    I tend to agree with nr706 as well.
    Go back to the original poster regarding her "concern" about places such as Pho Hoa and Cafe Hoang, although offering excellent dishes at a fair price but having a perceived sanitary image problem. On the other hand, Hai Yen and Pasteur do offer a more polished ambiance and the non-Asian clientele does appreciate it. And you have to pay more for the ambiance!
    If I am having casual lunch with my friends on weekends, I certainly would go to Tank Noodle but if I have a business lunch, I would prefer select Hai Yen or Pasteur.

    Nghe
  • Post #15 - April 19th, 2007, 11:27 am
    Post #15 - April 19th, 2007, 11:27 am Post #15 - April 19th, 2007, 11:27 am
    I agree with Dom that the "best" discussion is pointless. And while I see your point Erik - which I would sum up as: "if you want to have a good meal on Argyle, Tank offers the widest range of choices, all generally done very well", you also say that whether it is the "best" really depends on the qualifier, best what?

    Best Pho?
    Best Banh Mi?
    Best sausage?

    Best what? I know some would say just best restaurant and leave it at that, not worrying about dishes, but even then you need to qualify it.

    Best service?
    Best value?
    Nicest room and seating? :roll:

    So I would say Tank is damned good, even great, and I would gladly recommend it to anyone who asked. But best? I will only use that word in a much more narrow context. The Bride will tell you that I am infuriatingly literal-minded, tho...
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #16 - April 19th, 2007, 10:12 pm
    Post #16 - April 19th, 2007, 10:12 pm Post #16 - April 19th, 2007, 10:12 pm
    If I'm not having pho or one of it's close relatives, I'll usually head to Dong Ky.This has been a regular stop for the last 15 years. Standout dishes include the lemon beef salad, viet shui mai, pork chop with rice bits and chinese sausage, "radish cake", Vietnamese crepe and Mi Quang. I love this place. It may not be the "best", but it's my favorite for sure.
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    swims with great difficulty.

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  • Post #17 - September 9th, 2007, 9:31 pm
    Post #17 - September 9th, 2007, 9:31 pm Post #17 - September 9th, 2007, 9:31 pm
    Pho 999 is my spot
  • Post #18 - October 9th, 2007, 6:56 pm
    Post #18 - October 9th, 2007, 6:56 pm Post #18 - October 9th, 2007, 6:56 pm
    I have had lunch at Tank Noodle twice this week and really loved it. i am a bit inexperienced with Viet cuisine ( have had an occasional bowl of pho and spring rolls) and i have always meant to make Argyle a regular stop so i decided to dive right in. I love the light and fresh approach to cooking that it appears is the overall gestalt to vietnamese cuisine. I guess i am already really hooked on this place.

    I dined alone for lunch and had a bowl of Tank Pho and the Bahn Mi Doi earlier this week. I was impressed and returned today for lunch with three buddies from work. I wanted to run down our order and see if anyone more experienced might have any suggestions on what else i need to try to have a truly well rounded understanding of Tank for future excursions.

    Started with the crispy pancake (#12 banh xeo), 4 orders of fresh spring rolls (#7) shredded papaya with shrimp pork, etc (#4) and squid (#6)

    moved on to (for the four of us) two bowls of Tank Pho (#39), deep fried whole red snapper (#164), bbq pork and rice noodles (forgot the #) and a sardine banh mi (#22)

    we also had the raw beef and onion (#175). we might have had a few other things that i cannot remember.

    I think the entire bill with tax and tip was $125. We easily could have fed 8 people with our order. Anyway, every dish was well recieved. If anyone else thinks there is anything else that is a must try please point me in the right direction. I have read various posts from the past about Tank Noodle and I have tried to incorporate a lot of those earlier suggestions into my ordering. Anyway, i look forward to more suggestions and visits to one of my new favorite places.
  • Post #19 - October 10th, 2007, 11:20 am
    Post #19 - October 10th, 2007, 11:20 am Post #19 - October 10th, 2007, 11:20 am
    I have tried many of the Vietnamese restaurants on Argyle and its environs and would agree that one should try similar dishes at different restaurants and make personal judgements based on that.

    Also, the original poster stated that some of the restaurants have a funky or less-than-hospital-clean vibe (to use my own words). In my experience, some of the best meals I've had have come out of restaurants that had that funky vibe. The best bowl of pho I ever had was almost in an alley in Vietnam and would never have passed the health inspectors here. I think that one should be careful and make educated choices, but too much worry can cause one to miss great experiences. Appearances are not always accurate. Some of the restaurants with the greatest vermin problems are in neighborhoods like the Gold Coast. I generally look for clientele when trying a new restaurant, especially in neighborhoods like Chinatown, Pilsen, Devon or Argyle (among many others). The locals know what is good and would not frequent restaurants that did not serve good, fresh food. This is not foolproof, but has served me well in Chicago, as well as around the world.

    That stated, my favorite pho restaurant is Cafe Hoang. Great, complex broth. Others feel that Tank has the best, but that is a matter of personal preference. I also like Hoanh Long on Lincoln Avenue just north of Peterson. A solid bowl.

    Look for locals, try dishes at different spots, get off the beaten path. Vietnamese food is so varied that everyone has their own rendition.

    Finally, I have not been able to find Bun Cha (grilled pork meatballs, pork belly, noodles and all the accoutrements in Chicago). The best meal of my life was this dish at a local dive in Hanoi (cost $6 for two of us, with beers). I would suspect that the shortage of this dish might be due to it being a Hanoi specialty and most of the local restaurateurs being from central or southern Vietnam. Not sure. Anyone know of a place in the Chicago area for this great dish? 8)
  • Post #20 - October 10th, 2007, 1:14 pm
    Post #20 - October 10th, 2007, 1:14 pm Post #20 - October 10th, 2007, 1:14 pm
    I have eaten at Tank Noodle twice and I thought that both meals were very good. I am no expert at what makes a perfect pho or any of that stuff but the broth was very flavorful and the spring rolls were well done.

    Tank is a place that is pretty close to several theatres and is generally a destination on the night that I have tickets.
  • Post #21 - October 17th, 2007, 11:03 pm
    Post #21 - October 17th, 2007, 11:03 pm Post #21 - October 17th, 2007, 11:03 pm
    I love both the pho and the teriffic salads at Cafe Hoang. I've never felt that the sanitary conditions were anymore compromised there than they are at many great places in Chinatown.

    The pho broth at Hoang has a great complexity as noted above.
  • Post #22 - January 14th, 2008, 11:38 am
    Post #22 - January 14th, 2008, 11:38 am Post #22 - January 14th, 2008, 11:38 am
    Had plans to go to Tank Noodle this Friday, but I just saw them on Check Please last night (I think it was a rerun). Has anyone been there post-CP? Is it going to be really crowded? If you weren't going to Tank where would you go (I'm dining with someone who is not quite as adventurous as me and will definitely notice service, cleanliness, etc.)
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  • Post #23 - January 14th, 2008, 3:20 pm
    Post #23 - January 14th, 2008, 3:20 pm Post #23 - January 14th, 2008, 3:20 pm
    I was there about a month ago on a Saturday afternoon and it was packed. There was *maybe* a four-top available.

    I wasn't impressed, either. Had Tank Pho and spring rolls. It was good, but I prefer Dong Thanh's pho.

    Dong Thanh
    4925 N Broadway St # B
    Chicago, IL 60640
    (773) 275-4928
    I've lurked far too long.....
  • Post #24 - January 30th, 2008, 12:52 pm
    Post #24 - January 30th, 2008, 12:52 pm Post #24 - January 30th, 2008, 12:52 pm
    i was at tank twice last week- both times for lunch. not crowded, but busy. did not detect much of a check please effect.

    one dish i haven't heard people mention that i absolutely love and consistently crave is jumbo shrimp simmered in the clay pot (#159). it is divine. you get two massive head-on shrimp in a complex, crunchy garlic and chili sauce (not very spicy). i know this isn't for everybody, but if you like shrimp heads, this is the dish for you. the best part of the dish is getting the meat out of the shrimp head and scraping the remainder of the sauce out of the clay pot with it. messy but delicious. even my husband who is wary of shrimp heads can't get enough of this. lest i forget, the shrimp are indeed jumbo and meaty and perfectly cooked- practically a large prawn. but, imo, if you discard the heads you are missing a big part of what makes this dish amazing.

    a bowl of pho, some shrimp clay pot and a pineapple-banana smoothie with tapioca and i am as happy a camper as you will see! i wish it wasn't closed today or i would head over right now.
  • Post #25 - January 30th, 2008, 7:28 pm
    Post #25 - January 30th, 2008, 7:28 pm Post #25 - January 30th, 2008, 7:28 pm
    The catfish and pork in claypot is also delicious. I wonder if it is the same sauce?
  • Post #26 - January 30th, 2008, 8:05 pm
    Post #26 - January 30th, 2008, 8:05 pm Post #26 - January 30th, 2008, 8:05 pm
    comradelaura wrote:The catfish and pork in claypot is also delicious. I wonder if it is the same sauce?

    Both are fish sauce-based sauces however the shrimp sauce also includes the prawns' green tomalley and red roe.

    Tôm Càng Kho Tàu (Freshwater Prawns in Tomalley Sauce) recipe:

    Ingredients:
    -4lb fresh water prawns, size 1-2 head-on (1-2 prawns per pound)
    -2 eggs (optional)
    - 1 finely chopped shallot
    -1/2 medium onion (optional)
    -1 cup coconut juice (approximate)
    -fish sauce, sugar, pepper

    What to Do:
    Peel prawns, remove legs and claws. Remove tomalley and reserve for making sauce. Chop shallot, onion finely, beat eggs with tomalley and add onions. Bring coconut juice, 3 tbs fish sauce, ½ tsp sugar and 1 tbs pepper to a boil, add prawns and simmer for 2 mins. Add egg and tomalley mixture, simmer for another 15 mins. Add fish sauce and sugar to taste right before serving. Serve with rice .

    Note:
    When buying prawns look for ones with a tint of reddish-orange on the body and both sides of the head. The tomalley, gives the coral color when cooked, be careful when you remove it, as the prawns’ waste is also stored in its head. The fish sauce should boil rapidly as the prawns are dropped it, this will give them better texture.
  • Post #27 - January 31st, 2008, 10:17 am
    Post #27 - January 31st, 2008, 10:17 am Post #27 - January 31st, 2008, 10:17 am
    ooh, thanks so much for the prawn claypot recipe. must try and make it this weekend!
  • Post #28 - March 3rd, 2008, 1:27 am
    Post #28 - March 3rd, 2008, 1:27 am Post #28 - March 3rd, 2008, 1:27 am
    Ms TCFoodie and I have been eating the asian soups so much lately it is almost embarrassing.
    And with the beef recall (yes I understand the limited relationship between that and my pho) I am once again thinking about my diet and my secret wish to eat more holistically.
    For me this would mean cutting out the artificial foods including the hormone laden meats I am sure are used to eat the gallons of soup which make their way into gullet.
    So.. I have been eating vegetarian soups lately when possible.

    -Please don't see this as disparaging any restaurants or their practices, just another preference worth exploring on occasion-

    Most often the veggie soups I have found in Chinatown, on Bryn Mawr, and on Argyle are simply meat based soup broth with vegetables.
    Tonight at dinner I was conflicted when told the veggie soups at Tank are meat free. I was hoping the soups all had a meat base so I would have no impediment to my cherished XL Pho with extra jalapeños and 20 minutes of indulgence with a sweaty forehead.
    As It was I had the Vegetable and Tofu soup made extra spicy with a side of the sprouts, jalapeños, basil, and cilantro.

    The soup was nearly as good as Ms TC Foodies pho with flank and brisket. The tofu was certainly not typical store bought if not made in house. And a real highlight were the mushrooms which were left in healthy sized slices and re-hydrated so that they had a texture similar to fish balls. They lent an added flavor and texture I appreciated despite the copious amount of vegetables with a desirable integrity and flavor often missing in soups.
    While the soup was 9.95 it came with a side of rice and certainly filled me up (please see Northwest Indiana Kelseys post for clarification on "filling up")

    With the exception of the full hot pot at Lao Se Schwan everything from the prices to the accoutrements available on the table to the ease of parking at Tank make it my first choice for asian soup (is that the appropriate nomenclature?)
    “Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.”
    George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright (1856-1950)
  • Post #29 - March 4th, 2008, 4:29 pm
    Post #29 - March 4th, 2008, 4:29 pm Post #29 - March 4th, 2008, 4:29 pm
    Check, Please!: Flamingo Seafood, Kiki Bistro, Tank Noodle
    Airs Friday, March 21 at 8:00 pm on WTTW11
  • Post #30 - March 4th, 2008, 6:16 pm
    Post #30 - March 4th, 2008, 6:16 pm Post #30 - March 4th, 2008, 6:16 pm
    Nghe wrote:Check, Please!: Flamingo Seafood, Kiki Bistro, Tank Noodle
    Airs Friday, March 21 at 8:00 pm on WTTW11


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