Phuong Trang is a medium-sized Vietnamese restaurant with an unpretentious air and a menu 10 pages thick. Most of (what I think of as) the standard items appear: pho, bun, banh, banh hoi, bo, com tha, and also pages of specialty curries, stir-fries, and hot pots. Not a hope in hell of doing anything but a cursory sampling, is what I’m getting at. I will say this: I am naturally predisposed towards Vietnamese cuisine. Fresh leafy vegetables, fish oil, mint, clear profound broths, shrimpy concoctions, fruit smoothies, and the most iconic hot sauce in the 21st century always leave me brimming over with the healthy glow of brotherly love.
The food here is excellent and fairly cheap. Between us, we tried the pho (beef-based broth with thin rice noodles), the bun (cold noodles with salad), some kind of meatballs, and banh hoi (DIY spring rolls and shrimp and sugar-cane). We also went out on a limb with some catfish in a hot pot cooked in a caramelized fish sauce, which was very tasty, though not the kind of dish you’d want to get all by itself. Not a person left the table anything but happy, happy.
I already have a favorite Vietnamese place just down the road, Pho Convoy Noodle House. I’d be surprised and pleased to find something I liked better, and though Phuong Trang doesn’t beat it, I’d say it’s a photo finish. If the Noodle House mysteriously disappears one day, now I know there’s a solid back-up plan. Long Live Sriracha!