Chef Chat

Chef Chat, Part 3: Van Pham of Phamily Bites Food Truck

The last two days, we've been chatting with Van Pham about his food and what it's like to be an owner of a food truck in Houston. Today, we try some of his Phamily Bites food and find out what it's like to get pho cup'd and vandalized at the same time.

I wanted to get pho cup'd right away, so we started with his beef pho in a cup. I had the version with both types of meat, and when I took a sip of the broth, I knew it was real deal. The broth was rich and full of flavor, a bit fatty but in a good way, and there was a generous amount of noodles and beef.

"How do you make the broth? Do you use any MSG?" I asked him. "It's just beef brisket and bones," he replied. "You won't get any MSG headache after eating my pho, I guarantee it." I've actually had to limit my pho intake at restaurants because of the MSG problem, so I was happy to hear his reassurance, digging in so I could get the full effect of broth, beef, noodles, aromatics and herbs. I couldn't believe it was pho he made on the truck. It was excellent.

Next up, my own special request, was a spam misubi. If you haven't ever tried spam misubi, its kind of like a sushi roll, only it's made with spam. Pham offers more than one version, but he let me sample the most traditional one, which is just seaweed, spam, furikake seasoning, and rice.

Thank goodness he only gave me one. Spam misubi is ridiculously addictive, and I could have easily put away a couple more of these tasty little treats. It's something I'm highly likely to crave, and I can already see myself chasing down his truck just for the spam misubi alone.

Next up were Pham's mom's famous egg rolls -- delicious, golden egg rolls filled with a mysterious mixture of pork and crab that was simultaneously savory and the slightest bit sweet, due to the inclusion of crab. Pham said that it was his best seller and that it was a good portion to share. I'll admit that the order was big enough to split with someone else, but I found myself dusting off the entire portion (10 pieces, five rolls) in no time flat.

The three dishes didn't leave me much room for his signature banh mi, the "Vandalizer." Stuffed with a generous helping of bo luc lac (grilled cubes of beef steak), a fried egg, watercress, pickled red onion, and drizzled with some vinaigrette, this was a mean and hearty banh mi that I would gladly revisit.

"You've now been properly vandalized," Pham said. And how. "I'll have to come and see Sasha [the name they have the truck] more often," I replied. I even started following their Twitter handle, @PhamilyBites.

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