I felt the need to write my own post on Kim's Vietnamese upon reading Bryan Fitzgerald's Times Union review. The review left me confused. Not that I don't doubt that restaurants have inconsistencies from time to time but some things about the review were off-putting enough for me to share my own thoughts. As a disclaimer, I am a first generation Vietnamese-American (nee Canadian but now a naturalized American) born and raised by immigrant parents. I live a very Americanized lifestyle and don't follow much in way of traditions but if there's one thing about my culture that I wholeheartedly appreciate, it's the food! I have a very unique perspective on Vietnamese food and you can't blame me for being so picky. Have you read what my mom packed for my school lunches? My parents are even more picky and never go out to Vietnamese restaurants unless it's for pho noodle soup.
My parents and I have eaten pho at most of the Capital Region's Vietnamese restaurants with the exception of Pho Yum because it's a silly name and it's just not right to charge extra for meat on top of a base, and My Linh because they couldn't fathom paying $15 for canh chua soup (a peasant dish that my mom makes all the time) and a bowl of pho for two just didn't make sense. In fact, my dad made us walk out of My Linh upon being seated and seeing the menu. Told you they were picky.
You might think that I am biased towards all things Vietnamese but trust me when I say I've had mediocre Vietnamese food too. Perhaps my taste for Vietnamese food is more discerning than an American palette but I've trained my Irish-American boyfriend to love Vietnamese food and we both disagree with Fitzgerald's take on pho: "Beef broth in our pho — Pho Dac Biet ($8.95) — at Kim's Vietnamese in Albany was a bit weak, a tad sour, just underwhelming enough to fall onto the good-but-not-great side of the pho-broth spectrum." (Times Union). At times we've had a fattier broth at Kim's but never underwhelming or weak. I don't know what Fizgerald's expectations of what a real pho broth tastes like but it's suppose to be a fine balance of aromatic spices and rich, beefy flavor that has good clarity to it and has a good depth of flavor. Perhaps Fitzgerald is use to places that use more of a bouillon-cube based broth (a taste that my mom has picked up on from other local joints).