I am forever indebted to all the folks who send me recommendations. In the comments section of my revisits post on Suppanee and Pho Xpress, "Elle" asked if I had tried the Bun Rieu at the newest location of Phuong Nga. Bun Rieu? I'd seen the new signage for this place when we returned from our last trip in December. Since Van Hoa closed its doors back in fall of 2016; it became, first Pho & Banh Cuon Ha Long, which then became Pho Huong Viet for a few months. I never even had a shot at visiting. Then it became Pho 87 for a brief period.
Since this space had become more or less of a revolving door and having been to the original location of Phuong Nga a few times, I just kinda put it on the backburner. Even though folks have told me that Phuong Nga has gotten better over the years. Well, I didn't know this location served Bun Rieu. So, the very weekend after Elle's comment, I headed over.
The interior of the place remains basically unchanged from the locations last couple of iterations.
When I opened the menu, I cracked up. There are basically only two things on the menu. About ten different variations of banh cuon and bun rieu. I found this to be quite refreshing. In Vietnam, and many other countries, you do one or two things and do them well; that's all you need.
So, I ordered my Bun Rieu and was quite impressed with what arrived at the table.
As impressed as I was with that rather cumbersome bowl of noodle soup. I was even more struck by the accompanying veggies. It was all there; shredded morning glory, shredded banana blossom, tai to - red perilla, green Vietnamese balm (rau kinh gioi), as well as the usual suspects. And of course, there was a little container of fermented shrimp paste!
The broth was light, at least by my standards and was on the sweet side. I like a bit more heft to my broth along with more tanginess. The shrimp paste helped a bunch. The noodles were wonderfully slippery with just the right amount of pull. I love tomatoes and the fried tofu in this dish.
The "crab cakes" were large, tender, but mostly pork. The cha lua was....well cha lua, squeaky, with a mild porkiness to it. There was one lovely piece of stewed pork rib with some meat on it. It was really good. As I dug deeper into the bowl, I bit on a small umami bomb. Turned out there was some dried shrimp in the broth....these were also quite tasty.
Is this the best bun rieu I've ever had? Well, no. Do I think it might be the best bun rieu in San Diego at the moment? Yes. Why don't you be the judge and check it out. Under eight bucks is not a bad investment for trying this.
Phuong Nga 2
4016 54th St
San Diego, CA 92105
Thanks so much for the recommendation Elle!