Phuong Trang – San Diego

Nem Nuong Cuon (BBQ Pork Meatball Rolls) from Phuong Trang

The ultimate Asian food scene in San Diego, CA is on Convoy Street. We sat down at Phuong Trang and ordered a bowl of pho, a broken rice dish and these fresh spring rolls were a knock out!

They were probably twice the size of ones we’ve had before and it’s not often that you see nem nuong spring rolls served–it’s usually the classic fresh pork and shrimp spring rolls or fried pork rolls. Being BBQ pork, it gave the spring rolls a slight sweetness that I was not familiar with in a roll but it was very welcome. Really good by itself and even better dipped into some peanut sauce, with the lettuce and herbs cutting through that creaminess.

We were really just looking for something quick and filling before going on about our day of adventuring and Phuong Trang just so happened to be opened early, serving their entire menu by just 10:30am. They also served everything quickly. Before we even finished our huge rolls, our entrees were served to us.

The broken rice was unique also, coming with both familiar and unfamiliar elements. I’ve had the traditional vegetables and grilled caramelized pork chop before but here at Phuong Trang, like the spring rolls, it was served a little differently. You’ve got the classic veggies (cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, and tomatoes), shredded pork, and pork cake with egg but new to me on the plate was a grilled pork patty as well as a fried shrimp cake.

First, let’s talk about the pork patty: minced pork, full of meaty and fatty bits as well as a good punch of lemongrass, glazed with something along the lines of some brown sugar and fish sauce, then charred the way you want it. I liked it because it was my first time trying it and the flavors were there but I admit that it was a little too fatty, so much so that it was kind of causing the pork mixture to not adhere too well together and also giving the patty less of a satisfying bite. I’m sure that if I went to Vietnam and ordered this off a street stall, I would know the difference.

Com Tam Dac Biet – Broken Rice with Assorted Meats and Vegetables

Onto the fried shrimp cake: It was… alright. And maybe that’s a little generous. It tasted like oil and it was hard to distinguish what the meat was. I looked at it after a bite and it appeared grey, which made me suspect maybe it was pork. It wasn’t bouncy or sweet like I’d expect ground shrimp to be like. But it also didn’t have the same chewiness I’d expect from ground pork. So… maybe I can assume that it was a shrimp and pork mixture that had been covered up by this oily taste. Again, this fried shrimp cake was new to me but maybe I’d enjoy it if it were done better.

Overall though, what matters is the fish sauce! And that’s always hard to mess up. Mix in some garlic chili sauce to that and spoon it over your dish and you’ll still be happy. I appreciate the new meats and I’m not a picky eater anyways.

Pho Dac Biet – Beef Noodle Soup Combination Special

We also had a bowl of pho dac biet (combination beef noodle soup) and it was not bad. Not the best, not the worse. It was filled with a lot more meat than we were expecting though, if you’re a fan of tripe and tendons.

A table next to us had other things from the menu, including fried fish sauce chicken wings and a whole grilled fish. From what I remember, this place served a huge range of Vietnamese cuisine so if you’re looking for something you might not find at other places, you might just find it at Phuong Trang.

4170 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

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