Phuong Nga Banh Cuon

Phuong Nga Banh Cuon | San Diego, CA | This Tasty Life

I’ve had Phuong Nga Banh Cuon lingering in my bookmarks for quite awhile. You see, Jake isn’t as enamoured with Vietnamese food as I am and I didn’t think Phuong Nga Banh Cuon would be a place he really wanted to try. The stars aligned and he ate some breakfast without me, allowing me to go explore on my own. I stopped by Phuong Nga Banh Cuon on Saturday morning for a little breakfast.

Phuong Nga Banh Cuon | San Diego, CA | This Tasty Life

Phuong Nga Banh Cuon is located off University Avenue in City Heights, right near the 15. Burger King is across the street. It’s a little strip mall that was mostly full of cars, but I managed to park by the Hong Kong Market at the end of the strip. Phuong Nga Banh Cuon has four items on the item for takeout and plenty of catering options on the wall. I saw a lady bringing out several trays of hot food while I was deciding what I wanted to try.

Phuong Nga Banh Cuon | San Diego, CA | This Tasty Life

The back of the menu has photos and English translations for all of the items available. I had no idea what most of this stuff was. I was just curious and wanted to try something different. 

Phuong Nga Banh Cuon | San Diego, CA | This Tasty Life

I ordered the #4 which came with Steamed Rolls with Wet Cake and Fried Pork Paste [$5.99]. I realize that none of those words sound particularly awesome when you think of it as food. Wet cake? Fried pork paste? What was I getting myself into?

In this plate you get a bag of veggies (bean sprouts, cucumbers, basil) and a cup of fish sauce for dipping. 

Phuong Nga Banh Cuon | San Diego, CA | This Tasty Life

These are the Banh Cuon or “steamed rolls”. The rice paper wrapper is warm and a bit sticky. It’s kind of like a rolled taco that’s made out of warm, chewy rice paper. The filling has minced pork, minced woodear mushrooms, and shallots (though I thought it was onions, but Wikipedia tells me it’s usually shallots). The steamed rolls can be difficult to pick up and put into your mouth since they have zero stability. The filling starts to fall out a little once you pick it up, but somehow you manage to dip it into fish sauce and get it into your mouth and chew happily. The fish sauce gives it a little bit of a sweetish flavor and I really liked the texture of the wrapper. I only managed to eat 3 of these before I started getting full. 

The texture got a little weird on me as the wrapper got colder so I prefered eating these hot!

Phuong Nga Banh Cuon | San Diego, CA | This Tasty Life

Next up: the fried pork paste. Underneath the balls of fried pork where just plain sheets of the rice wrapper (wet cake). I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it, so I wrapped the warm rice paper around the fried pork paste and added some basil and cucumber and made my own little roll. It was quite tasty! The fried pork paste has kind of a … squishy texture. But I don’t mean squishy in a bad way. It was kind of squishy-spongy but it really just tasted like a fried pork meatball. Maybe it’s crispy if you eat it right away, but I drove back to Jake’s first so I’m unsure if it’s supposed to be crispy or not. In any case, I liked it. 

I barely managed a dent in this giant plate of food. With tax the whole thing only set me back $6.50. It was an adventure trying this new food and it was cheap which was a bonus if you ask me.

Cafe Dore | San Diego, CA | This Tasty Life

While I was waiting for my plate of food to be prepared, I wandered around the strip mall looking for coffee. I found it at Cafe Dore. 

Cafe Dore is a tiny hole in the wall right next to the laundromat. There were a few people in there. Some were watching TV. Some were playing some kind of game in the corner. I walked up the counter and asked for an iced milk coffee and the gentlemen working there had it ready for me in about 30 seconds. He already had the coffee ready to go. All he had to do was add ice to a styrofoam cup and dump in the coffee with condensed milk. 

Cafe Dore | San Diego, CA | This Tasty Life

Whoa, drinking this was like getting kicked in the teeth! It is super strong but creamy and a little bit sweet from the sweetened condensed milk. I loved it! I love trying new things!

Phuong Nga Banh Cuon
4141 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105

Cafe Dore
4135 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105

Author: Mary

Mary is a San Diego native and has been a food blogger for 11+ years. She is an avid reader, a lover of puppies, and loves trying new food. Foods she loves: sweets, peanut butter, pasta, Triscuit crackers with cream cheese, and extra nuts on top of her sundaes. Food she dislikes: pickles, really spicy food, runny eggs, olives, and too much arugula.

5 Replies to “Phuong Nga Banh Cuon

  1. Glad you were able to try Phuong Nga Banh Cuon! They are most popular for their banh cuon since they are made fresh. I’ve only tried the #1 special plate before, which has everything, but I could only eat maybe half since it was so filling! It kinda reminded me of the English full breakfast I’ve seen online because it’s mostly meat lol

    1. Hi L – I’m glad I was able to try it as well. It is quite a meaty way to start your day, haha. It is a TON of food, too. Definitely good for sharing!

  2. This looks like a cool place to try out. I don’t think I’ve tried this dish before. Man, that iced coffee from Cafe Dore looks pretty strong, the way I like it. Usually when we order VN coffee, we ask for less condensed milk.

    1. Hi CC – It’s a tiny spot with a tiny menu – quite specialized! Ohhh I think you’d like the coffee from Cafe Dore. I saw they had the espresso machine going and the guy at the counter was making more and more new coffees. I definitely need to do more City Heights exploring. There are so many little places that I’ve never tried out.

  3. Usually the smaller the menu, the better it is, in my opinion. Those types of places specialize in certain things and most of the time, make it pretty well. City Heights is full of great food finds.

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