A restaurant in DeSoto that started out doing pho has taken a delightful twist — delightful if you like good, healthy, and vegan food, that is. Once called Pho ThaiBinh, it's now ThaiBinh's, one word, and it still does pho as well as classic Thai dishes, but with plant-based alternatives in place of meat.
Owner ThaiBinh Ho moved to Texas from California and opened his restaurant at 324 E. Belt Line Rd. in DeSoto in June 2019.
He'd always considered going the vegan route, but there was another vegan restaurant located nearby, Peace Love and Eats, whose profile he wanted to respect.
"I didn't want to step on their toes," he says. "But then the pandemic came and they settled on smoothies and smoothie bowls. I could see that people in the area wanted a vegan option, so we made the switch. We rebranded our name and are now 100 percent vegan, but with the same great taste."
It wasn't a big shift. His sauces and basic dishes had been vegan all along. It merely meant that, if you were to order their popular garlic noodles, you could get it with chick'n, tofu, oyster mushrooms (a popular vegan menu item because of its meaty texture), or broccoli.
"People are always surprised about the broccoli, but broccoli is really high in protein," Ho says.
Broccoli contains 12 grams of protein in 100 calories, versus 15 grams of an equivalent quantity of steak. Broccoli also contains protein with all the essential amino acids, which is a big deal for people who fixate on protein.
Ho is enjoying the creativity involved in refashioning classic dishes such as chicken wings. In place of the chicken, he's frying up cauliflower bites in a crisp, crunchy crust. It's the same preparation, same sauces, and same garlicky taste. Perfect with a side of garlic fried taro, the root vegetable that gets a fluffy-moist center when fried.
His pad Thai Binh has choice of vegan chicken, oyster mushrooms, or tofu with rice noodles, carrots, broccoli, and bean sprouts in tamarind sauce, topped with crushed peanuts and green onions.
He's also unfurled vegan versions of basil fried rice, lemongrass tofu, and pho.
One of his most popular items are his peaceful egg rolls — the same as a regular egg roll, fried until golden, but with a filling of kidney beans, chickpeas, shredded carrot, taro, sweet potato, vermicelli, and mung beans — a nice alternative to tofu.
"We make them small batches — they sell out quickly," he says.
Other recent introductions include:
- pho 'rito, all of the ingredients of pho wrapped in a tortilla
- curry fries, topped with curry sauce
- garlic fries
- tofu garlic nuggets
Since he's made the switch to a vegan menu, he and neighboring Peace Love and Eats have benefited from a symbiotic relationship.
"It becomes a place for the vegan community, we can piggy back off each other, where if someone comes in for one place, they discover another," he says.