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It's been FOREVER since we tried Vietnamese 7 course beef, also known as Bò bảy món or Bò 7 món. Our last post was at Anh Hong Restaurant (Garden Grove) from over 5 years ago! We've been meaning to try it in San Diego and had the opportunity recently. Our first meal of 2020 was with family at Phuong Trang in Convoy. The restaurant does get busy around lunchtime so plan earlier or later for larger groups.
After being seating on a larger family table, we ordered one set of the seven course beef. Within 10 minutes, this beef adventure was beginning, all with easy access through the lazy susan.
Course 1: Classic comfort food like this beef porridge always make me happy. The light broth was appreciated, immersed with softened rice, minced ground beef and an abundance of ginger. The larger ginger chunks were too overpowering for my tastes but Dennis loved those ginger bites!
Course 2: The raw beef is cooked in a vinegar broth to give it a subtle tang. Afterwards, we prepared spring rolls with rice noodles, our choice of vegetables, plus the just cooked meat.
Course 3: This raw beef is cooked in butter with lemon grass. It's interesting how you reuse the same burner contraption by removing the "double boiler" pot from the previous course. Dennis's mom demonstrated the technique of cooking the onions and lemon grass in butter first, then adding meat to soak up the flavors. Once again, the meat is available for spring rolls but you can eat standalone for that freshly grilled taste.
Well, here's an attempt at spring rolls for the blog. LOL. Maybe I need a little more practice! For dipping, this course comes with a slightly pungent sauce, less "offensive" (more americanized) than other places. I prefer a fish sauce dip or peanut sauce for my rolls.
Course 4-7: The last four beef items arrived on one plate. My favorite was the middle vietnamese meat loaf, a lightly seasoned beef with well integrated clear noodles (which I barely noticed). To the left was lemon grass infused beef sausage. I wasn't a fan of the soft bits which I later realized were boiled peanuts. To the right, the charred red meat reminded me of bbq pork seasoning and contained a fibrous spring onion center that was tough to bite through. The darker grape leave wrap (or similar) were another favorite and added a slight bitterness to the meat though I could once again taste soft peanuts in there. Last but not beef (pun intended), the shrimp chips were recently fried, crisp and in huge demand by the kids!
Besides the multi-course beef, we ordered Phuong Trang's famous Butter Chicken Wings, which require extra time, so get those orders in sooner! The seasoning is salty and sweet plus the fried garlic bits boost the flavor. We also use the fallen garlic to flavor everything else! The batter itself is easy to nibble through and retained the crisp even after a period of eating other foods first! I love the incredibly juicy meat inside although Dennis counters it's too oily for him! You win some, you lose some.
For a filler dish, the shrimp fried rice does the trick. I'd estimate that six bigger shrimp made an appearance in our plate. Otherwise, this entree had plentiful chunks of egg throughout, scattered veggie goodness, and just enough oil to be tasty yet nongreasy.
I'm not sure what this dish is called but it was DELISH! The seasoned chicken was satay style with some grill to it. I think those are peanuts on the meat too but none of that soft boiled kind! This must be ordered again on our next visit!
Sister-in-law's family also ordered a tofu curry dish. Despite the chili pepper flakes all over, it only had a hint of spicy to it. Not really my thing but I believe family liked it.
Even though 5 adults and 2 young kids attacked this meal, we were stuffed to the max with a small doggie bag for later. The seven course meal does give you variety with different beef flavorings so is worth trying at least once. As to WHERE to try it, we still have at least one more local spot to hit before we come up with our own verdict. Have you tried seven course beef before?
Phuong Trang (Convoy)
4170 Convoy Street
San Diego CA 92111