Phuongs Vietnamese Restaurant
Phuong’s Vietnamese Restaurant is the best Vietnamese food in the Charleston area. It is pretty much a fact. As a food photographer I am fortunate to find myself eating for fun after shoots in Chicago, New York, Philly, Boston, Baltimore, etc. A food enthusiast friend of mine once told me that the best food on the planet may possibly be Vietnamese as that is where East meets West. It took me a couple years to really understand what he meant. If you think about the FOH service style in the USA it is most often French style service. Then you think about the BOH. From my understanding most kitchens are set up in a French manner. Most kitchens I have photographed in seem to uphold more French culinary traditions than anything else. So if you have French cuisine intermingling with Asia…. then the results are “fusion” without the Appleby’s and Guy Fieri attitude.
This brings us to Phuong’s. Phuong was working at H&L Asian Superstore. Her and Dat (husband) were very quietly making the best Pho in Charleston and now they have moved down the street to the former Raul’s Taqueria. I live downtown Charleston close to Hampton Park and the Citadel. I drive to Phuong’s Vietnamese Restaurant once a week to get an order of Goi Cuon and Pho with Meatballs and Brisket. There is a reason old men eat soup. It fills you up immensely with no food coma. Why? It’s liquid. Sounds obvious, but from my understanding the Vietnamese eat Pho for breakfast. I get it. I have shot for 60-70 Charleston restaurants from McCrady’s to Husk to Cru Cafe to Martha Lou’s Kitchen… Phuong’s is where you need to be. If you like CO on King Street then you will LOVE Phuongs! When you eat another culture’s food you want someone from that country making it. There are so many nuances to other culture’s food that I find it very disheartening when I give someone like CO a chance (and a second and third chance, too) and walk away so unimpressed. Phuong charges 8.95 for a bowl of Pho. I spent 3 hours in their kitchen shooting a portrait one time. It’s the real deal folks.
Go up I-26, get off at Remount Exit, and park your car at Phuongs. Try the Scallion Pancakes, a Bun dish or my favorite the Pho. Try all the other pho in town. Try the pho in the bigger cities. Be open-minded. Is it worth $14 for a smaller bowl of Pho at CO with a small layer of grease on top surrounded by hipster idiots? Or do you want a Vietnamese family dropping miles of smiles and serving you their food at almost 50% less and 100% more flavor? Do the math, Charleston!