Pho Quyen Vietnamese Cuisine: Delicious Traditional Dishes & Innovative Specials

Published on 30 November -1 in Business
Marcy Sanford (author)

Marcy Sanford


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If you’ve lived in Westchase for a while, you’ve probably heard it referred to as “the bubble,” and sometimes it may feel like you need a good reason to leave our idyllic neighborhood. Pho Quyen Vietnamese Cuisine is an excellent reason to venture a bit outside our area. Owners, Lisa and Vuong Nguyen, have been delighting the taste buds of diners for more than 20 years. “My husband learned how to cook from his uncle and then started developing his own style and creating new recipes,” said Lisa. “He is happiest when people tell him they enjoy one of the dishes he’s cooked.”

Even though Pho Quyen has been a Tampa Bay favorite for many years, Vuong is constantly adding specials and new dishes to the menu while continuing to serve customer favorites. They recently began offering sushi rolls and sashimi on weekday evenings and all day on the weekends.

On a recent visit to Pho Quyen, Lisa introduced Tampa Bay News & Lifestyles photographer Mike Bird, and me to some of the new fall specials that Vuong has developed. We started off with the bang bang shrimp appetizer – tempura shrimp in a spicy mayo and bang bang sauce made especially by Vuong. They were perfectly crispy with just enough spice to give it a little kick. The Beef Stew is unlike anything you’ve ever had with a rich, thick sauce with egg noodles, carrots, beef and yams – it takes comfort food to a whole new level. Another new favorite is the beef skewer appetizer – tender pieces of beef marinated in a honey and lemongrass marinade with black and white sesame seeds. Vuong’s creativity and talent in the kitchen is evident in each and every dish he makes.

While Pho Quyen offers new appetizers and special dinners every few months they also have over 125 traditional Vietnamese dishes on their menu  - many with a choice of meat or vegetarian option and with various levels of spice to satisfy your cravings. Best of all, if you’re uncertain about which dish to choose, Lisa and the rest of Pho Quyen’s friendly and helpful staff are happy to talk to you about the types of dishes you like and help you choose a new favorite from the Pho Quyen menu.

Pho Quyen only uses the freshest ingredients and that’s apparent with every bite of food. Lisa says they order their herbs and produce from local farms when possibly. Lemongrass is my new favorite after eating the Spicy Lemongrass Seafood dish.

Another recipe that prominently features lemongrass is the Spicy Lemongrass Noodle Soup featuring beef and jumbo rice vermicelli noodles served with beansprouts, cilantro, lime, jalapeno and fried and green onions. “The noodle soups take a lot of time, labor and lemongrass to make,” says Lisa, “you have to cook it with the herbs for a long time to get the right flavor.” In addition to a variety of noodle soups, Pho Quyen also offers Pho noodle soup with beef, chicken, vegetables or seafood.  I had to ask about pronunciation because I’ve never been sure and Lisa told me it is pronounced Fa. Lisa told me that Pho is the main noodle soup of Vietnam and that many people consider it a healing soup because of the variety of healing herbs in it.

No matter whether you’re in the mood for Pho or something else, Pho Quyen has you covered. You can get dishes with fried rice, broken rice, rice vermicelli, rice noodle, egg noodles or crispy noodles all with freshly made sauces, herbs, and whatever meats or vegetables you desire.

If you’re looking for an authentic drink to go with your lunch or dinner, you’re in luck at Pho Quyen. They have delicious Thai Tea made with rich cream and tasty Thai tea, French Iced Coffee made the traditional way, fresh limeade, jackfruit, mango or avocado smoothies and a full bar offering wine, beer, sake and specialty cocktails like the ginger cucumber martini, lychee sangria or Saigon sling.

At the end of your meal you definitely need to try one of Pho Quyen’s traditional desserts like the Sticky Rice Custard with warm coconut cream and crushed peanuts.

Truly no matter what you choose at Pho Quyen, you can’t go wrong.

If you’re looking for someone else to cook your holiday meals, Pho Quyen is the place to be. They will be open until 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and regular hours on Christmas Day. They’ll also be open regular hours on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Pho Quyen Vietnamese Cuisine is located at 8404 W. Hillsborough Avenue. They are open Mon. –Sat., 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. For more information or to order online visit www.phoquyen.com or call 813-885-9424.

 

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