Saturday, February 16, 2008

Phuong Trang, revisited

I amended a statement I made in my previous post about Phuong Trang. I said "...all the dishes are above-average and the service is quite good.". Well, I corrected that to some of the dishes (namely, the ones I order all of the time) are above-average and the rest are average. Nothing is terrible here. Phuong Trang is a place for indoctrinating Vietnamese food newbies. The food is good enough and served in a very non-intimidating environment.

D. and I started with the nem nuong cuon or grilled pork spring rolls. They're decent, with good pork flavor and an interesting twist: a little bit of Thai basil. I'm used to mint and cilantro in spring rolls, but Thai basil is a nice touch.

They wrap the rolls with the ends neatly cut, which is odd, but they're so tightly wrapped that it isn't a problem.

I'd flavor the nem nuong a little more and grill it a little longer for more smokiness.

D. ordered one of their best dishes, bo xao xa ot, beef stir-fried with lemongrass, onions, and hot peppers. Served with steamed rice, it's tart with lemongrass and fiery from the peppers. The onions are sauteed to perfection, adding both texture and flavor to the dish.

I ordered the ga ca, which literally translates to "chicken fish", but means chicken and fish noodle soup. The greens were kind of meager. I'm not sure if mint is traditional with a clear-broth noodle soup like this, but it would have been a nice touch.

The chicken was all white meat, so it was really dry. Pieces of white fish, I think cod, were poached and still fairly smooth and moist.

The chicken broth was decent and helped by the chives, scallions, and cilantro. The noodles were a bit overdone and soft, which hasn't happened much in my experiences eating here. I've had the tom ca (shrimp fish) and it's much better combination than chicken and fish. It's really good with the clear glass noodles, which they do pretty well. I asked for them this time, but they gave me the regular rice noodles. Oh, well.

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