By: Brian Kendall
By: Courtney Dabney
If you’ve ever paid a visit to Shinjuku Station or Tokyo Café, chances are you’re familiar with the cooking of chef Tuan Pham, who helped put both of these Cowtown staples on the map. Recently, Pham found himself nostalgic and began offering the flavors of his childhood when Four Sisters − A Taste of Vietnam opened on South Main Street last November.
Being the middle child flanked by four sisters (two older and two younger) is not an easy position to find one’s self. Those same sisters were some of the first to crave his cuisine. “And, all these years later, I am still cooking for them,” he says.
Diners are familiar with both Japanese and Thai elements, but Vietnamese … not so much. While we’ll go out on a limb and say most Fort Worthians are familiar with pho, few locals have ventured much farther inland. Pham didn’t want to scare people with a huge menu of unfamiliar options, so he pared it down to the greatest hits and included dishes that allow newcomers to more easily dip a toe into Vietnamese fare.
I would describe Vietnamese as more herbal than other Asian cuisines since some of its most distinct flavors come from lemongrass, ginger root, fresh mint and Thai basil leaves. The acid from fresh lime juice and the heat from red chili are also big players, but Vietnamese is not necessarily spicy — so don’t let that scare you off.
The newly constructed, modern building sits near the Vandervoort’s Dairy on the up-and-coming South Main Street. The attractive space is filled with a mix of ladder-back chairs and cozy pillow-backed banquettes. There is also a table for larger groups with U-shaped seating. Warm, wooden accents mix with concrete flooring and soundproofing overhead, along with a cozy bar area.
The majority of the menu consists of small plates — similar in style to Shinjuku Station. This is ideal for sampling with friends and family.
I tried the duck confit bao ($9 for two filled buns). The steamed buns have a doughy consistency, and at about half-an-inch thick, they are folded around the fillings (kind of like a Vietnamese taco).
The bao was filled with duck breast seasoned by a honey hoisin glaze, garlic mash and shaved green onion for garnish. The thickly sliced duck was slow roasted in duck fat, but you could not taste much of that richness since it was served at room temperature — although the slices had plenty of fat on them. The bao was a little dry and looked prettier than it tasted. Next time, I’ll take the beer-braised pork belly bao out for a spin.
A sucker for lemongrass anything, my waitress mentioned that all the noodles and tofu are housemade daily, so I had to sample the lemongrass tofu ($7.50) as well. Cubes of fresh tofu were dusted in rice flour and fried, making a crispy exterior. A lovely presentation with green onion and fried lemongrass, shallot and garlic slices, the dish was served with a dipping sauce of lime juice, soy sauce and chili paste. It was simple and satisfying.
Entrees include dishes like braised pork belly, seafood noodle soup and crab fried rice. But, don’t expect rows of pho to choose from. In fact, beef pho ($9.50) is the only one on the menu.
The housemade, flat rice noodles are simply delicate. The broth is made from a family recipe that takes 18 hours to achieve, and you can really taste it. The pho was topped with chunks of tender meatballs, ribbons of shaved tenderloin and brisket and served with a set-up to personalize the flavor, including sliced jalapeño, Thai basil leaves (with their unusual licorice taste), lime wedges, bean sprouts and cilantro.
Four Sisters − A Taste of Vietnam
Location: 1001 S. Main St., Ste. 151
For Info: 682.385.9353, foursistersfw.com
What We Liked: The menu is adventurous without being daunting. Chef Pham has crafted an accessible menu.
What We Didn’t: The duck confit bao was not what we expected and could use more sauce to moisten it.
Recommendations: With nothing sweet on the menu, use that as your excuse to try one of four specialty cocktails. And don’t forget about Four Sisters’ extended happy hour from 2 to 6 p.m.
By: Brian Kendall
By: Courtney Dabney