Vietnamese Seasons

Of the two main Vietnamese restaurants in Downtown Palo Alto, Three Seasons doesn’t seem to garner as much praise or attention.  Having tried Tamarine before, I was curious to see how Three Seasons would compare, so thanks to Groupon, Pdho and I took the opportunity to try the high-end expensive Vietnamese food.  The restaurant is located in a alleyway off University Ave. and is surprisingly spacious.  Although there are two levels, the restaurant doesn’t maximize the space as efficiently because the entire center of the restaurant is completely open from the bottom floor to the ceiling.  Space aside, the openness is quite nice and makes the restaurant feel much bigger than it actually is.  We weren’t very hungry after a very big lunch at my cousin’s house earlier in the day, so we decided to order 2 small plates and 1 entree.


Fried Calamari

The Fried Calamari was good, but it really wasn’t anything that out of the ordinary.  In fact, even the dipping sauce, although very good, tasted like the same Thai dipping sauce from the bottle that I use at home.


Shrimp with Papaya and Mango Salad

Strangely enough, I’ve really grown an appreciation for papaya salad which is so funny if you know me, because growing up as a kid, I did not like it one bit.  However, I really like the fresh crunch of the julienned papaya and the tangy, fishy dressing.  The minor addition of mango slices that were tossed alongside with shrimp and papaya added a slight sweetness, but I could have done without the fried crispy shallots.  Although it provided some crispiness, I didn’t like the flavor that it adds to the salad.


Tiger Prawns with Garlic Noodles

This was definitely the best tasting dish of the  night.  The tiger prawns were well cooked, but it was the garlic noodles that I really liked.  They were extremely buttery with a healthy bit of garlic flavor and sprinkle of Parmesan cheese which I found very interesting.  In all truth, the dish didn’t taste Vietnamese in the slightest, but then again, until I had garlic noodles at Crustaceans, I never even associated garlic noodles with Vietnamese cuisine.  Yet this is the second or third chi chi Vietnamese restaurant that serves it.  Authenticity aside, they tasted delicious!

All in all, the food was decent, but I truly believe the food is overpriced for what it is.  I have a hard time justifying expensive Vietnamese food, because generally speaking, the ingredients are not very expensive and the techniques are not complex.  Even if the food is very good, it still feels just a bit wrong.  In comparison to Tamarine, the prices are pretty comparable, but I probably prefer Tamarine a little more.  I think the food is a somehow more refined while still retaining the essence of Vietnamese flavors.  Even though it’s hard to compare since we came to Three Seasons on a Sunday evening, I also feel like Tamarine has a slightly trendier vibe.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the meal, but having the Groupon really made the meal much more enjoyable. 🙂


Three Seasons
518 Bryant Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301

PAFO Ratings for Three Seasons:
Price 3½ stars
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3 stars